Status: Lost In Flight
4/5/1949 – 1/28/1986
First Flight: 8/30/1984
Last Flight: 1/28/1986
Judith Arlene Resnik was an American electrical engineer, software engineer, biomedical engineer, pilot and NASA astronaut, who died when the Space Shuttle Challenger was destroyed during the launch of mission STS-51-L.
Recognised while still a child for her “intellectual brilliance”, Resnik went on to work for RCA as an engineer on NASA missile and radar projects, was a senior systems engineer for Xerox Corporation, and published research on special purpose integrated circuitry, before she was recruited by NASA to the astronaut program as a mission specialist at age 28. While training on the astronaut program, she developed software and operating procedures for NASA missions. She was also a pilot and made research contributions to biomedical engineering, as a research fellow of biomedical engineering at the National Institutes of Health.
Initially planning to be a concert pianist, Resnik had turned down a place at the Juilliard School of Music, choosing instead to study mathematics at Carnegie Mellon University after being one of only 16 girls in the United States to have attained 100% scores in her SAT exams at the time. She went on to graduate from Carnegie Institute of Technology in electrical engineering, before graduating with a Ph.D. magna cum laude in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland.
Resnik was the second American woman in space, and the fourth woman in space worldwide, logging 145 hours in orbit. She was also the first Jewish American in space, and the first Jewish woman of any nationality in space. The IEEE Judith Resnik Award for space engineering is named in her honor.