Growing up in Beersheva, Ilan Ramon didn't dream, as little boys in America did in the 1950s and 1960s, of being an astronaut. After all, no Israeli had ever been launched into space. He dreamt of flying, though, and soon learned to soar over his tiny country as a much-decorated Air Force pilot.
Now Ramon, 48, will do what he dared not even dream: He will travel into space.
Since a spaceship orbits the earth once every 90 minutes, is an astronaut required to pray three times in each rotation, and observe Shabbat for an hour and a half after every six orbits, or nine hours?
Though they sound like details in a work of half-baked Jewish science fiction, they've become real questions as the first Israeli astronaut prepares to lift off on a NASA Space Shuttle mission.