Judith Resnick - Jewish American Astronaut

Posted by: Julie Berniker on Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 10:00:00 am

Judith Resnik was one of the seven crew members who died in the tragic explosion of the space shuttle Challenger on January 28, 1986. She was the second American woman to travel to space, and the fourth womanworldwide. Judith was born as Judith Arlene Resnik on April 5, 1949, to her first-generation Jewish-Russian Parents.

In 1977, while she was finishing work on her doctorate, NASA was trying to expand their space program. They were encouraging minorities and women to apply for their space program. Judith decided to apply, and in 1978 (at age 29), She was one of the six women accepted to the program. After her acceptance, she completed a 1-year training and evaluation period in August, 1979. Judith was extremely intelligent; she could read and solve math problems before she entered Kindergarten. She attended both Carnegie-Mellon University and the University of Maryland. At Carnegie-Mellon University she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering in 1970. She then went on to the University of Maryland, in 1977, and received a doctorate in Electrical Engineering.

While working for NASA, Dr. Resnik worked on a number of projects in support of Orbiter developments. She helped work on the Remote Manipulator System (RMS) and training techniques. The RMS is a remote-control mechanical arm that moved objects located outside the spacecraft (Cohen). She first flew as a mission specialist on STS 41-D which launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, On August 30, 1984 (Biographical). “The crew earned the name ‘Icebusters’ in successfully removing hazardous ice particles from the orbiter using the RMS” which Judith helped to build. With the completion of this flight, she logged 144 hours and 57 minutes in space (Biographical). “Seventy-three seconds into the flight of Challenger, the space shuttle exploded in midair due to hydrogen leakage caused by faulty O-ring seals. Along with her six crew members, Resnik died in one of the worst space disasters in history (Cohen).

 

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