Judith Resnik

April 5, 1949 – January 28, 1986

Judith A. Resnik was a certifiable genius. There was evidence of her intelligence throughout her childhood, culminating with her attaining a perfect score on her SAT exam in high school. She studied electrical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University and eventually obtained a PhD in the field from the University of Maryland…with honors, always. Her early career was spent with organizations like RCA and the National Institutes of Health. She helped the Navy design components for complicated radar and telemetry systems. At the urging of a friend, she also learned to pilot airplanes…getting perfect or near-perfect scores on her license exams – naturally. She was a gifted and brilliant individual and in 1978 she applied to be an astronaut at NASA.

As part of NASA’s “Astronaut Group 8”, Resnik was part of the first cohort of women in the United States’ space program. She trained alongside the likes of Sally Ride and future crewmates Dick Scobee, Ron McNair and Ellison Onizuka. She helped design a new robotic arm for the Space Shuttle program and in 1984 – aboard the maiden mission of Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-41-D) – she was able to operate it for the first time. As the second American woman in space (after Ride) and the first Jewish American person in space, Resnik’s first shuttle flight was wildly successful on all accounts. Her unique skillset had found her a home in one of the most ambitious programs in history. Her second flight, however, would become one of the most infamous moments in American history. Resnik was a Mission Specialist aboard the January 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger mission STS-51-L which failed during launch, killing all seven astronauts on board. She was only 36 at the time. One can only imagine the advancements and technologies she could have contributed to had her life not been so publicly and heart-breakingly cut short.

Burial

Arlington National Cemetery – Arlington, VA

Specific Location

Section 46, Lot 1129; After the bodies of the astronauts were recovered, Judith was cremated and her remains were interred at Arlington amongst the cremated remains of the rest of the crew beneath the large monument to the disaster.

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