Mon, Feb 28, 2005
Journal By Israel's First Astronaut Survived Fiery Columbia
Deciding to even attempt
it was hard enough for Israeli police document examiner Sharon
Brown. IDF Colonel Ilan Ramon, one of the seven astronauts who died
when the shuttle Columbia disintegrated upon re-entry February 1,
2003, had kept a diary of his first space flight. Not only did the
pages survive Columbia's destruction, the 38 mile-long fall to
Earth and two months' exposure to the Texas elements.
The mere act of reconstruction was itself a danger to the mound
of papers found in an East Texas pasture in April.
"You know what a lit match could do to that pile of papers?"
Brown asked during a forensic scientists' convention in New
Orleans. She was quoted by the Associated Press.
In all, 18 handwritten pages of Ramon's diary were recovered. Of
those, 12 were technical notes he'd made before the mission. Six
contained personal notes -- which Brown refused to disclose.
It wasn't until a request from Ramon's widow, Rona, that Brown
painstakingly restored the documents. Rona wanted to know more
about her husband's last thoughts.
While Brown tried at first not to read what she was so carefully
piecing together, she told reporters there was no way to get the
job done like that.
Is there anymore to the diary? Brown doesn't know -- and may
never find out. "We don't know whether he just stopped writing or
ran out of paper, or other pages were destroyed."
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