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BackgroundJudy Resnik, 5'4, 110 lbs, with long flowing hair, was not just another pretty face: a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, a fellow in biomedical research, she was absolutely serious about her work as a Mission Specialist in space. Driven and perfectionist, she practically lived in the Johnson Space Center simulator, getting ready for the Challenger flight - except, that is, when not building up her stamina running and working out. But her dedication did not preclude, in private, with her astronaut friends and colleagues, a rollicking playfulness. This, no doubt, explains her stepping into the freezing Challenger crew cabin on January 28, 1986, and exaggerating a shiver, exclaiming "Cowabunga!" Or how, as the solid rocket ignition command was sent, yelling "Aaall Riight!" and at 15 seconds into flight, "[expletive] hot!" Blasting past Mach I at 60 seconds into flight, she seems the likely candidate to have shouted, "Wooooo Hooooo!" What she didn't say, 73 seconds after liftoff, was "uh-oh." That was pilot Mike Smith - and then, only a single crackling noise was heard on the air-to-ground radio.
Judith Resnik, age 36, died along with the six other crew members as a result of the Challenger exploding into pieces. Yet the crew cabin remained intact, and in its 2 minute and 45 second descent toward the ocean, the commander and pilot’s reserved oxygen packs had been turned on - by Judy Resnik, seated directly behind them.
What killed the Challenger crew was not exploding nine miles above earth - but smashing, at over 200 miles an hour, into the sea.
Signed Photo, as NASA Astronaut, in color, quarto, no place or date.