1. Wide shot astronauts sitting side by side in front of microphones 2. SOUNDBITE: (English) Laurel Clark, Astronaut: "The final member of our crew, and wonderful crewmate and friend, is Ilan Ramon." 3. Wide shot cutaway astronauts 4. SOUNDBITE: (English) Ilan Ramon, Astronaut: "Hello, my name is Ilan Ramon, my background is, I am from Israel. I've been in the Israeli airforce for a long time, I'm a husband to Rona and four wonderful kids, and I am honoured and privileged to be on this flight with this wonderful team, and I'm not talking only about the astronauts, I'm talking about hundreds of scientists, flight directors, trainers and so on, so, I'm happy to be here." 5. Wide shot cutaway astronauts 6. SOUNDBITE: (English) Ilan Ramon, Astronaut: "There's no better place to emphasise the unity of people in the world than flying to space. People, my crew mates just talk about me or Israel, but it goes the same for any country, Arab country, whatever, we are all the same people, we are all human beings, and I believe that most of us, almost all of us, are good people. So, I am not thinking of myself or my family as targets, but as human beings, and this flight especially is going to take care of a better life on Earth. Although we are going to space we are going to take care of a better life on Earth." 7. Wide shot cutaway astronauts
US space agency NASA is promoting the upcoming flight of the Columbia space shuttle as a "unique opportunity" to perform a number of research and technology experiments.
The experiments will study Earth and space science, advanced technology development, and astronaut health and safety.
It's also hoped that information from the experiments will point to better drugs to treat cancer and osteoporosis.
There will be some 80 experiments during the 16-day flight.
The crew will be made up of five men and two women.
Six of the crew members are American, and Ilan Ramon, an Israeli jet fighter pilot, will fly his first mission to space on Columbia.
During a press conference Ramon said he sees the space programme as a means of improving peoples lives.
Columbia is set to begin its mission no earlier than January 16th.
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AP Archive3595899599bedb26cf648a4c8f225803a7a080US NASA 2003Ilan RamonIsraelMiddle EastTechnologyBusiness