Close cooperation between first Israeli Astronaut and ORT students In a letter to the President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Director General of World ORT Robert Singer and National Director of ORT Israel expressed the organisations deepest condolences to the American and Israeli people on the tragic loss of the Space Shuttle Columbia and its seven brave astronauts. We at World ORT and ORT Israel understand the significance of the Space Programme and hope that this tragedy does not jeopardize the future of such important missions or deflate the will and spirit of the American people and of the global community, stated Robert Singer. As ORT is dedicated to the advancement of science and technology, we are hopeful that this tragedy will not be a deterrent to Israels Space Programme or Israels participation in future space missions. World ORT together with ORT Israel is proud of its involvement with Columbias voyage and with Israels first astronaut, the late Col. Ilan Ramon. During the mission, Ramon conducted an experiment concerning the lack of gravitational forces in space, which was researched by our students from ORT Kiryat Motzkin, a high school in northern Israel. Among all the Israeli schools that submitted projects, ORT Kiryat Motzkin was selected by SPACEHABS STARS project to be part of this historic mission. ‘I saw the debris coming off the shuttle, and I didn’t understand what had happened,’ said Pini Shekhter, 14, one of ORT Kiryat Motzkins STARS project participant who was at the launch of the shuttle in January. ‘I just wanted to see the shuttle land and Ilan and our experiment come back. But when I saw the shuttle explode, all our dreams and expectations exploded with it.’ The students have created a memorial to Ramon at the school with a collection of pictures and newspaper stories about him and the flight.