She is the aunt of Chattanooga native Tammy Jernigan, a former NASA astronaut who was a crew member on five space shuttle trips — three on Columbia, including one with Cmdr. Rick Husband, one of the seven who died in Saturday’s shuttle re-entry.
“Tammy knew nearly all of them that perished Saturday,” she said Monday. “And of course she is grief-stricken.”
Peggy said her niece has been out of the program for a couple a years, is now married to former astronaut Jeff Wisoff, and both work in a laboratory in California.
“It’s a horrible tragedy, and I don’t understand it because (re-entry) is not supposed to be as dangerous as lift-off,” she said. “I didn’t realize how much heat there is during re-entry.”
Peggy said her mother Margaret Jernigan, Tammy’s grandmother, said she is “glad Tammy was out of the program.”
Despite grandmother Jernigan’s feelings, Tammy and husband Jeff say they want the shuttle program to continue, Peggy said.
Tammy and Jeff were not giving public comment as of Monday