Judith Resnik’s Ex-Husband Helped Her Father After Her Death

Getty This November 1985 file provided by NASA shows the crew of the doomed US space shuttle Challenger. Front row from left are: astronauts Mike Smith, Dick Scobee, Ron McNair, back row from left: Ellison Onizuka, school teacher Christa McAuliffe, Greg Jarvis, and Judith Resnik.

Judith Resnik was one of the astronauts killed in the Challenger explosion in 1986. She didn’t have any children and she wasn’t married at the time. However, her ex-husband Michael Oldak later helped her father get a settlement related to her death. Learn more about where Oldak is today and what happened then.

The Challenger explosion is the subject of Netflix’s new four-part documentary series Challenger: The Final Flight, exploring the stories around the tragedy of January 28, 1986.

Resnik & Oldak Remained Friends After Their Divorce, But Resnik Didn’t Have Children

Resnik and Oldak met when they both attended Carnegie Mellon as engineering students in 1966. She was a freshman and he was a senior. They were married in 1970 and their divorce was finalized in 1976, but they remained friends, UPI reported. They never had children.

Oldak said they separated because they were interested in different things. Oldak said that she switched her major from math to electrical engineering because she wanted to work in something more tangible, CMU reported. At the time of the interview in 2011, he was vice president and general council for Utilities Telecom Council.

He said she was always up for a challenge, noting: “I remember taking her to Kennywood to ride the rollercoasters. At first, she hesitated. But once she took a ride, she was hooked and rode them all.”

Oldak said that she was a gourmet cook, a great navigator at sports car rallies, a pianist, and driven in everything she did. Even after their divorce, they still talked on the phone every few months, as Resnik kept Oldak updated on her life as an astronaut, UPI reported.

When she died, Oldak was working as an attorney at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, UPI reported. He remarried a few years before she died.

He Represented Her Father in a Settlement Over Her Death

After her death, Oldak helped Resnik’s father, Marvin Resnik, reach a settlement with Morton Thiokol, the Los Angeles Times reported. The company had built the booster rocket of the Challenger. Morton Thiokol’s attorneys said that the government’s refusal to participate was hurting their negotiations. Resnik’s mother, Sarah Resnik Belfer, reached a separate settlement with Morton Thiokol that the government didn’t contribute to.

Marvin Resnik said the settlement was in the range of other Challenger settlements: between $2 million and $3.5 million, UPI reported. He said he was angry about how he and the other families were treated, but did not want to put his family through a long trial. Marvin Resnik said the money would help her brother’s children and would also set up scholarships in her name.

According to his LinkedIn page, Oldak is now an attorney for Oldak Consulting.

His bio reads: “Extensive experience in electric rates and regulation, especially smart grid related telecom, technology and business case issues. History of leading policy debates, managing complex litigation, and establishing outstanding relationships with key policy makers and thought leaders. Comprehensive understanding of legal, regulatory and technology issues affecting critical infrastructure industries.” 

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