Who she was:

Growing up, Judith Resnik loved school, especially science and math. In high school, she got a perfect score on the math S.A.T. Her hard work earned her entrance to Carnegie-Mellon University, where she studied electrical engineering.

In 1977, while studying for her Ph.D., Judith heard that NASA was recruiting women and people of minority backgrounds to join the space program. She had never thought of becoming an astronaut but applied anyway. She was one of six women accepted from over 8,000 applicants.

What she did:

In preparation for space flight, Judith trained for six years at NASA. She specialized in controlling the robotic arm astronauts use to move objects outside of the space craft. In 1984, Judith first entered space on the orbiter Discovery, where she had the job of using the robotic arm to open a sail that would collect solar power for future missions. She spent seven days in space.

Judith wanted to travel to space again and was scheduled to launch on the Space Shuttle Challenger in July 1985. NASA delayed the launch several times until January 28, 1986. Just after take off, the shuttle exploded due to equipment malfuntion. All seven of the crew members, including Judith, died in the disaster.

Why she's cool:

Judith was a pioneer for women in science, one of only 45 American women astronauts (and 55 world-wide) in history. Judith was the first American Jew and the second American woman in space.

Before she died, Judith gave the following advice to students: “I think that astronauts probably have the best jobs in the world…Study what interests you. Do all you can and don't be afraid to expand into new fields.”