Judith Resnik, Akron's
own woman astronaut, died doing what she loved - flying into space.
Resnik was one of the seven astronauts who died aboard the Challenger
Space Shuttle in 1986.
Born in Akron on
April 5, 1949, Resnik was the daughter of Dr. Marvin Resnik, an Akron
optometrist, and Sarah Polen Belfer of Bedford Heights, Ohio. She was
a product of Akron's public schools. She went to Fairlawn Elementary,
Simon Perkins Junior High and Firestone High School. Resnik went on
to college at Carnegie-Mellon University where she earned her Bachelor's
degree in Electrical Engineering in 1970 and her doctorate from the
University of Maryland in 1977.
She worked at RCA
as a design engineer, at the Laboratory of Neurophysiology and National
Institutes of Health as a biomedical engineer and at Xerox as a systems
In 1978, Resnik
happened upon a report that NASA was accepting applications for astronauts.
That job sounded good to her so she applied -- one of 8000 who did.
NASA accepted just 35, six of them women, one of them Judith Resnik
She faced rigorous
training but Resnik was always up to a challenge. In August 1979, she
graduated from the space program. Her first mission was as a specialist
on the STS 41-D, launched in August 1984. It was the first flight of
the orbiter Discovery and Resnik was in space seven days. On board that
mission, she charmed the world when she flashed a sign that read "Hi
Resnik was looking
forward to another space flight in 1985, this one on board the Challenger.
But the flight was delayed until Jan. 28, 1986. That was when the Challenger
exploded shortly after lift off. Judith Resnik was only 36 years old.
Resnik always loved
her job. In 1984, she told Akron's Roundtable, "I think that astronauts
probably have the best jobs in the world." She advised students
in the audience to "Study what interests you. Do all you can and
don't be afraid to expand into new fields."
After her death
Resnik's father described her - "She had the brain of a scientist
and the soul of a poet."
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