By Jewish-American Hall of Fame ……
The newest medal in the Jewish-American Hall of Fame series honors two heroic Astronauts–Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman and Dr. Judith Resnik–its 2016 inductees. Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman is depicted on one side repairing the Hubble telescope; the remote-control mechanical arm that Dr. Judith Resnik specialized in can be seen to his left. On the other side, Dr. Resnik is portrayed holding her helmet; Haley’s comet, which she was going to photograph, is in the background. The medal is designed in high relief by Eugene Daub, who has created nine out of the last 10 medals issued in this notable series.
Mintages are limited to 150 bronze (2 ½ oz.), 75 pure silver (nearly 3 oz.) and 35 gold-plated pure silver (nearly 3 oz.) two-inch diameter medals, serially numbered and accompanied by a Certificate of Authenticity. They are available for contributions of $50 per bronze, $200 per silver and $250 per gold-plated silver medal to the non-profit Jewish-American Hall of Fame. Orders can be placed by calling (818) 225-1348; mention that you read about it in Coin Week and take a 20% discount.
When Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman read a book saying that no Jew has ever been an astronaut or will ever be an astronaut, Hoffman decided to prove that wrong. He moved to Houston, and became the first astronaut to log over 1,000 hours in space; Hoffman went up into the firmament five times (logging over 20 million miles), including a mission to fix the Hubble telescope.
On one flight, he went up 400 miles at a speed of 18,000 mph–with six other crew members–to repair the Hubble in September 1993. It was an essential mission, because if the Hubble were not repaired, it could not have sent back the amazing images that have altered our knowledge of the universe.
The Hubble mission occurred during Chanukah, and so Hoffman took along a draidel (a Chanukah top). Images were sent back to mission control, so he decided to explain what a draidel was. He went on TV, talking about Chanukah and spinning the draidel to demonstrate the game. The little top floated magically in the cabin, suspended in mid-air. Since 2002, Dr. Jeffrey Hoffman has been a Professor of the Practice in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Judith Resnik was a pioneer for women in NASA’s space program, and the second American woman astronaut to travel in space. She received her master’s degree in engineering from the University of Maryland, and began work on her Ph.D. while employed as a biomedical engineer in the neurophysics lab at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). After receiving academic honors for her doctoral work in electrical engineering, Resnik continued to train for the NASA tryouts. In 1978, at 29, she was one of six women accepted into the program.
During her first six years at NASA, Judith Resnik specialized in the operation of a remote-control mechanical arm that moved objects located outside the spacecraft. In 1984, on her first space flight on the shuttle Discovery, Resnik was responsible for unfurling a 102-foot-long solar sail, which, on future missions, would be used to capture the sun’s energy.
NASA’s Challenger, Flight 51-L, was Resnik’s second space launch on January 28, 1986. She was to have assisted in photographing Halley’s comet. Seventy-three seconds into the flight, the space shuttle exploded in midair due to hydrogen leakage caused by faulty O-ring seals. Along with her six crew members, Dr. Judith Resnik died in one of the worst space disasters in history.
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