Judith A. Resnik was born on April 5, 1949, in Akron, Ohio. She earned a B.S. in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University in 1970 and a Ph.D. in the same field from the University of Maryland in 1977.
In the early 1970s, Resnik held various roles at RCA Corporation. Between 1974 and 1977, she was a staff fellow at the Laboratory of Neurophysiology at the National Institutes of Health.
Resnik was selected as a NASA astronaut in January 1978, the first cadre including women. She trained as a mission specialist the following year; then, filled a number of positions with the shuttle program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Resnik became the second American woman and first Jewish American in space during her flight aboard the maiden flight of Discovery, STS-41-D, which took place between August 30 and September 5, 1984. During this mission, she helped deploy three satellites into orbit and was also involved in biomedical research. She was then selected as one of three Mission Specialists on the fated Challenger STS-51-L mission.
Resnik’s brother, Charles Resnik, M.D., was a Founding Director of Challenger Center and continues to serve on the Board of Directors and Advisory Council.