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Kalpana Tsaula's husband - NASA is not to be blamed

Claims that he represents all families * Visited the university where she studied in India

Avi Blizovsky

Jean Pierre Harrison
Jean Pierre Harrison

The families of the seven astronauts killed in the Columbia explosion on February 1 are not blaming NASA, Indian-born astronaut Kalpana Chawla's husband said Thursday. "It's a risk we knew about, as it happens to the families of military pilots," Jean-Pierre Harrison told 40 aeronautics students at the Panjab College of Engineering, where his wife studied 25 years ago. "In any human initiative, mistakes will always happen."

The seven astronauts and their families planned to visit India together in March, but Harrison ended up arriving alone in the northern Indian city.

He said that the families maintain regular contact, but "emotions still need to be sorted out" regarding their deaths.

Accident investigators meanwhile said that damage to the left wing caused hot air to enter and destroy Columbia and kill the seven astronauts. Researchers still do not know what caused this crack.

"Don't blame NASA or anyone else. They did the best job they could according to the data they had," said Harrison.

Chawla, 41, left for the US in 1980 and became the first astronaut of Indian origin in 1994. She met Harrison in 1982 when the two attended the University of Texas at Arlington and married a year later.

"We talked about it and she said that if Hadar has to happen, it will happen," he said. "It's not such a terrible way to go because it happened in space. I understand that this is something she wanted to do."

Chawla is a national hero in India and young girls said she inspired them as an example of excellence in science and technology."

"What attracted me to her was her inner fire to do everything well. She was determined to use this for something. She was a very private person," said Harrison, who was born in England to a French mother and an English father. He moved to the USA in 1974.

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