January 16, 2003; STS-107 Space Shuttle Columbia rocketed away towards the heavens from Cape Kennedy Pad LC-39A under command of Rick D. Husband USAF F-4 Phantom Instructor, Test Piot, and F-15 Demonstration Pilot. , Shuttle Pilot William C. McCool, USN Prowler pilot with over 2,800 hours flight experience in 24 aircraft and over 400 carrier traps. Mission Specialist David M. Brown, Mission Specialist Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist Michael P. Anderson, Mission Specialist Laurel B. Clark and Payload Specialist lIan Ramon.
Payload Specialist, IIlan Ramon, had the proud honor of being the first Israeli astronaut, coming from a history as an Israeli fighter pilot(F-16 Falcon, F-15 Eagle, F-4 Phantom, and Mirage IIIc aircraft) as well as one of the pilots who flew as part of Operation Opera, Israel's percision strike against Iraq's unfinished Osiraq nuclear reactor.
Unknown to many, on his mission to space, IIan carried with him, a piece of paper. A sketch made by a young 14 year old boy named Petr.
Pictured: Petr and siter Eva
Petr Ginz was born on February 1, 1928, to father, Ota Ginz and, mother, Marie Ginzová, a Jewish family living in Czechoslovakia.
At the age of 14, Petr was separated from his parents and transported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp in October 1942. There, he spent his days under the control of the German SS still clinging to his dreams of science, and science fiction. His favourite author was Jules Verne.
Even within the walls of the concentration camp, Petr managed to continue his quest to study science from a library full of confiscated books the Nazis had collected. Petr eventually began to write his own stories of space travel, and drawing and painting as well. One of Petr's creations was quite amazingly different from his existance within a Nazi concentration camp...it depicted the view from the surface of our Moon, and the Earth serenely rising above the lunar landscape.
Sadly, after managing to survive for two years under brutal Nazi control, at 16 years of age, young Petr was loaded onto one of the very last transports to Auschwitz concentration camp, where he was murdered in the gas chambers in 1944.
On January 16th, 2003, Petr's sketch was placed on board Space Shuttle Columbia as she sat on launch pad 39A.
At 15:39:00 UTC Space Shuttle Transport #107 ignited her engines with over 7.8 millions pounds of thrust, and left the surface of our world with a thunderous roar.
Even though Petr never escaped the barbed wire fences of the concentration camp, who could have imagined, that one day, his drawing would actually leave the surface of our planet in a rocket traveling 18 thousand miles an hour, orbit the Earth 255 times, and travel over 6 million miles through space, all in the hands of a Jewish astronaut.