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"I Want to Do Everything There Is to Be Done" - The Challenger's Jewish Astronaut

Judith Resnik, the Jewish astronaut who died on the Challenger space shuttle on January 28, 1986 (Photo: NASA)

Thirty years ago today, the world watched in horror as the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff. Seven brave astronauts perished that day. Jewish News' Victoria Gindick remembers one of them - Judith Resnik, who was an astronaut, a PhD in electrical engineering, and Jewish:

Judy Resnik was born in 1949 in Ohio, the daughter of immigrants from the Ukraine. She was a perfectionist, a pianist, a private yet popular person. Her father sparked her interest in science and nurtured her desire to succeed.

While earning a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and a doctorate in electrical engineering, Resnik sought challenges and pushed her limits to achieve, but took time to help younger students. Her first job introduced her to NASA projects.

A NASA recruitment ad seeking women and minorities inspired her to apply to be an astronaut. She immersed herself in a vigorous exercise regimen, read extensively, and sought advice from John Glenn. Success came to Resnik in January 1978 when she was chosen as one of only six women, including Sally Ride, who “had the right stuff.”

Without fear, she focused on helping to design and then operate the remote shuttle manipulator arm. Before her first space flight on the 36-orbit Discovery shuttle mission in 1984, she asked Rabbi Abraham Feffer, her spiritual leader, for a blessing...

How prophetic that Resnik once said, “I want to do everything there is to be done. I’ll never get old.”

Tags: History

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