Ilan Ramon, 48, a colonel in the Israeli Air Force, was a fighter pilot who was the only payload specialist on STS-107. Ramon received a bachelor of science in electronics and computer engineering from the University of Tel Aviv, Israel, in 1987. Ramon, as a member of the Red Team, was the prime crewmember for the Mediterranean Israeli Dust Experiment (MEIDEX), a multispectral camera that measured small dust particles (dust aerosols) in the atmosphere over the Mediterranean and the Saharan coast of the Atlantic. He worked with the following experiments: European Space Agency Advanced Respiratory Monitoring System (ARMS); Astroculture (AST-1 and 2); Biological Research in Canister - Development of Gravity Sensitive Plant Cells in Microgravity (BRIC); Combustion Module (CM-2), which included the Laminar Soot Processes (LSP), Water Mist Fire Suppression (MIST) and Structures of Flame Balls at Low Lewis-number (SOFBALL) experiments; the Microbial Physiology Flight Experiments Team (MPFE) experiments, which included the Effects of Microgravity on Microbial Physiology and Spaceflight Effects on Fungal Growth, Metabolism and Sensitivity to Anti-fungal Drugs; the Physiology and Biochemistry Team (PhAB4) suite of experiments, which included Calcium Kinetics, Latent Virus Shedding, Protein Turnover and Renal Stone Risk; and Space Technology and Research Students Bootes (STARS Bootes).
Ramon was selected as a Payload Specialist by the Israeli Air Force in 1997 and approved by NASA in 1998. He reported for training at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston in July 1998 and was making his first spaceflight.