Judith Resnik 1949-1986

She was not the first woman in space, or even the first American woman. Those honors went to the Soviet Union's Valentina Tereshkova (1963) and America's Sally Ride (1983). But Judith ("J.R.") Resnik may have been the most doggedly determined astronaut, male or female, ever to suit up. "I want to do everything there is to be done," she once said, and she came close to her goal. A gourmet cook and classical pianist ("I never play anything softly") with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, she was working on a pilot's license before she died.

As a child in Akron, where...

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