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Kalpana Chawla's remains identified

By Suleman Din in New York
February 13, 2003 23:55 IST
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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has identified the remains of Indian-American astronaut Kalpana Chawla and her six colleagues, who were killed in the Columbia shuttle crash on February 1.

Kalpana's remains will be cremated at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and her ashes will be scattered across a national park in Utah.

She wanted her remains to be scattered in the Himalayas or in one of the national parks in Utah.

Girish Chawla, her cousin and sole blood relative in the United States, told that the remains had been identified eight days ago, and that in preparation for the cremation, Dover's mortuary officials had asked the family for a new set of clothes and a letter.

"The letter expressed the emotions of the family," said Girish. "There were notes from her sister, her cousin... all of us.

"She went at the time of the explosion. Now it's just a ceremony for the body.

"I am still connected to her and can communicate with her. Her spirit still exists outside the body."

"We are comforted by the knowledge we have brought our seven friends home," said Bob Cabana, Director of Flight Crew Operations at the Johnson Space Centre.

"We are deeply indebted to the communities and volunteers who made this homecoming possible and brought peace of mind to the crew's families and the entire NASA family."

Private memorial services will take place over the next few weeks, NASA officials said.

"We are going to do whatever the family wishes," said NASA spokesperson Katherine Watson. "If they want to remains taken somewhere special, we will arrange for that."

The Columbia Shuttle Crash: The Complete Coverage

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Suleman Din in New York