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Parents of Two Challenger Astronauts Settle Claims

January 19, 1988

HOUSTON (AP) _ The parents of two astronauts who died two years ago in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger have settled wrongful death claims against Morton Thiokol Inc., their lawyer said.

Houston attorney Ronald Krist would not disclose the amount of the settlements for Sarah Resnik Belfer, mother of mission specialist Judith Resnik, and Bruce Jarvis, father of payload specialist Gregory Jarvis.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is not contributing to the settlements, Krist said Monday. ″We filed a claim (against NASA) for Bruce Jarvis, but it’ll be resolved in this.″

Krist said today that although no lawsuit was filed, he and Morton Thiokol attorneys negotiated ″the same as if there had been a lawsuit filed.″

Morton Thiokol officials in Chicago had no comment today, according to a secretary who would not give her name. Jarvis and Ms. Belfer could not be located this morning.

″They were were satisfied relative to the amounts of money involved, although you can’t replace human life with money,″ Krist said of his clients.

Thiokol manufactured and assembled the solid rocket booster, which was primarily blamed for the Jan. 28, 1986, shuttle explosion that killed all seven Challenger crew members.

NASA and Thiokol shared the cost of settlements reached in December 1986 with survivors of astronaut Francis R. Scobee, astronaut Ellison Onizuka, payload specialist and New Hampshire teacher Christa McAuliffe and Jarvis’ wife.

The four families settled for a combined total of more than $750,000, according to the U.S. Justice Department, but the precise amounts have been kept secret.

Jane Smith, wife of Challenger pilot Michael J. Smith, has a lawsuit pending against NASA in federal court in Florida. She is the only widow who has not received a financial settlement from the government or Morton Thiokol.

In May, Krist settled a suit against Morton Thiokol by Challenger astronaut Ronald E. McNair’s widow, Cheryl.

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