A real NASA astronaut!!
I was so excited to get to shake hands and to exchange a few words with him!
It is Israel Space Week, and yesterday at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev was the Annual Event Honoring Col. Ilan Ramon and the STS-107 Crew and Assaf Ramon.
February 1, 2003 was the dreadful day when the Columbia space shuttle broke up while approaching landing in Texas, and Israel's first astronaut, Ilan Ramon, perished along with his crewmates.
Six years later the Ramons' son Assaf was killed in a training mission as a pilot in the Israel Air Force.
Ilan grew up in Be'er Sheva so they have an extra special place in our hearts down here in the south.
The event began with four astronauts (seen on the screen) greeting us from space--from the International Space Station!
The round Senate Hall was packed with classes of high school students and several rows of adults.
Several Israelis speakers gave talks in Hebrew, and then an American lectured in English.
Seen at the podium is Dr. Jacob Cohen, Chief Scientist, NASA Ames Research Center in California.
He pointed out that anyone 17 years old or younger has grown up while there is a continual human presence in space, i.e. there have been one or more astronauts up in space at all times ever since these kids were born.
The excitement level rose even higher when the American astronaut arrived and began talking to us and showing exciting movies of launches and landings.
Dr. Michael Barratt is a medical doctor, a pilot, diver, father of five, speaks Russian, and who knows what else!
But he spoke in a friendly and humble way and inspired us all.
On the screen is his Space Shuttle Discovery when they landed after six months in space.
But before that, in 2009, Dr. Barratt went up inside a small Soyuz capsule and docked with the ISS International Space Station, staying there for 199 days; that mission launched from Baikonur spaceport in Kazakhstan.
After the fascinating talk, to which the kids paid rapt attention, Dr. Barrett stood with each class for photos.
But still, at the end everyone swarmed him in the center, hoping for a selfie with a real astronaut.
Finally the University officials whisked Dr. Barratt away, because even astronauts have to eat lunch!
At 4:00 space-related activities continued on campus and I had great fun!
But since this post is getting long, let's leave that for the next post.