Congressional Space Medal of Honor; Distinguished Public Service Medal; NASA Space Flight Medal. "When Ilan Ramon blasted into space on January 16, 2003, on the space shuttle Columbia, the hopes and dreams of an entire nation went with him," stated Tanya Lee Stone in Ilan Ramon: Israeli's First Astronaut. "Ramon was the first Israeli astronaut, lifting the spirits of a war-torn country, giving pride to every Israeli and to people around the world." Their elation was cut short. On February 1, Ramon (1954-2003) lost his life when the Columbia exploded just minutes before its scheduled landing. Source: Biography in Context Database.