Saturday, February 1, 2003, minutes before its scheduled landing at Cape Canaveral, the space shuttle Columbia tragically disintegrated while travelling 12,500 mph, 200,000 feet above Texas.  The wing temperature was 3,000 degrees F. 
     All seven astronauts perished.  They included two women and Ilan Ramon, the first Israeli in space.

     Peace is a fragile thing, but an experiment dedicated to peace has endured that fiery catastrophe.
     The first U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian Peace Experiment in space that flew on the shuttle has survived.
     It landed and was recovered in Nacogdoches, the oldest town in Texas. 
     Nacogdoches means "a place where people settle."
     And that is where settled and lived-on this cooperative, scientific endeavor of the people -- all the people -- Israelis, Palestinians, Americans.

     You may recall the story of Tariq Adwan ( ), a Palestinian biology student, and Yuval Landau ( ), an Israeli medical student, whose historic "first" shared space experiment was aboard Columbia.
     Stories and photos of Yuval and Tariq, and of the launch and recovery of their experiment, and of a champion of the project, Dr. David Warmflash ( ), are on the Web at:

Louis Friedman ( ), executive director of the sponsoring Planetary Society, said that "hope for the future is what you hope to achieve when you bring a Palestinian and an Israeli together."

Published in the New York Times -- Friday, May 9, 2003

Peace, in Experiment Form, Survives the Shuttle Disaster


     Peace is a fragile thing, but an experiment dedicated to peace has survived the fiery breakup of the space shuttle Columbia.
     The U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian Peace Experiment flew on the shuttle as part of a set of nine student experiments that have been recovered from the debris strewn across East Texas and western Louisiana.
     The experiment, which also goes by the more prosaic name Growth of Bacterial Biofilm on Surfaces During Spaceflight, or Gobbss, was designed to explore the origins of life on earth by seeing whether simple life forms could grow on minerals like those found in meteors.
     The experiment was developed by the Israeli Aerospace Medical Institute and the NASA Astrobiology Center based on the ideas of two students: Tariq Adwan, a Palestinian biology student from Bethlehem, and Yuval Landau, an Israeli medical student from Tel Aviv. Both watched the Columbia launching on Jan. 16.
     On Feb. 1, the day of the disaster, the metal case containing the experiment was recovered near Nacogdoches, Tex. It was not opened, however, until this week. Researchers at the Kennedy Space Center extracted the sample and will perform analysis.
     In a statement on the site of the Planetary Society, a group that favors space exploration and sponsored the experiment, David M. Warmflash, a NASA Astrobiology Institute member, said the sample seemed "good and viable."
     The experiment was placed on the shuttle by Instrumentation Technology Associates Inc., a company in Exton, Pa., that links commercial and student researchers with the space program.
     It should not be surprising that a space experiment was linked to a concept like peace, said Louis Friedman, the executive director of the Planetary Society. Mr. Friedman, who founded the society with Carl Sagan in 1980, cited the words on the plaque left on the moon in 1969: "We came in peace for all mankind."
     That the experiment involved young scientists from such a troubled corner of the world underscored the point that space exploration is, ultimately, about "hope for the future," Mr. Friedman said, adding that this "is what you hope to achieve when you bring a Palestinian and an Israeli together."