An important mission for science 409

Despite his multitude of tasks, Israel's first spacefarer had no intention of forgetting his heritage. Packed away with his personal belongings was a pencil drawing entitled 'Moonscape', sketched by a 14-year-old Czechoslovakian Jew named Petr Ginz, who perished at Auschwitz in 1944. ''The drawing is as he imagined the Earth looking from the Moon,'' explained Ramon, who had requested it from the Holocaust-era Yad Vashem art museum. ''This drawing was made long before anyone dreamed about actually going to the Moon. I'm taking [it] along to symbolise the winning spirit of this boy.''

Although he described himself as a 'secular Jew', Ramon made a point of taking kosher food into orbit and intended to observe the three Sabbaths he would spend aloft. Before launch, it was uncertain how these could be precisely timed: the Jewish Sabbath runs from Friday's sundown until Saturday's sundown, but with 16 sunrises and sunsets during each 24-hour period posed a problem. Eventually, it was decided Ramon would stick to the way sundowns were measured on Earth. As events would transpire, he was so busy that he only had chance to partly observe a single Sabbath.

'Partly', that is, because that Sabbath was the last of the STS-107 mission: it began as Ramon and his crewmates were packing away their equipment for re-entry and ended just a few hours after Columbia disintegrated 60 kilometres above Texas ...

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