Giffords' astronaut hubby decision due Friday

February 4, 2011 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer
In this undated file photo provided by the office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Giffords, left, is shown with her husband, NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. There are hints that astronaut Mark Kelly will take a shuttle into space in April. That would mean leaving his wounded wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, to continue her rehab work without him for at least a few weeks. Scott Kelly, also an astronaut, said his brother would decide “fairly soon” whether to fly the space shuttle mission in April. (AP Photo/Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, File)

(AP) -- The astronaut husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will announce Friday whether he'll fly on space shuttle Endeavour's final voyage - and all signs are go.

Mark Kelly will take part in a press conference Friday afternoon at Johnson Space Center in Houston, said late Thursday. The astronaut who has been substituting for Kelly during training, however, is not among the three participants, suggesting that Kelly has decided to fly in April.

His identical twin, Scott, currently commander of the , hinted in an interview this week that his brother would choose to fly.

Mark Kelly took a leave from training after Giffords was gunned down at a Tucson, Ariz., shopping center on Jan. 8. She's been undergoing rehab in Houston for the past two weeks.

Kelly spent the past month debating whether to step down as commander of Endeavour's two-week mission. In the meantime, NASA named a backup commander, Rick Sturckow, who joined crew training.

Kelly, 46, has flown three times aboard space shuttles; April's space station delivery mission would be his fourth. Endeavour's with a crew of six is targeted for April 19th.

The fact that Sturckow is not listed for the press conference is telling, indicating that Kelly will launch as scheduled, said Howard McCurdy, a public policy professor and space expert at American University in Washington, D.C.

And because it will be one of the last two launches and because of the drama behind the shooting of his wife, that shuttle launch will "get the same kind of attention that the (1998) John Glenn mission" received, McCurdy said. NASA is retiring the shuttle fleet this year; three missions remain.

McCurdy suggested the public will embrace Kelly's decision, because it provides a sense of normalcy.

"We all want her to go back to Congress; we'd like them both to continue their careers and we'd like them to be whole and normal as if this thing had never happened," said McCurdy, author of the book "Space and the American Imagination."

Both Kellys are Navy captains and joined NASA's astronaut corps in 1996. In an interview from the space station Wednesday, Scott Kelly said their Navy background as high-performance pilots enables them to put their personal lives aside, when necessary, and focus on the job at hand.

"My brother certainly is very good at that," he told The Associated Press. "If he does choose, and NASA management chooses, for him to fly this mission ... I am absolutely 100 percent confident that he will have no problem fulfilling his responsibilities the same way as if this incident would have never occurred."

Explore further: NASA names backup for Giffords' husband on shuttle

More information: NASA: http://www.nasa.gov/shuttle

0 shares

Related Stories

NASA names backup for Giffords' husband on shuttle

January 13, 2011

(AP) -- NASA announced Thursday a backup commander, if necessary, to take the place of the astronaut-husband of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was wounded in a mass slaying and recovering in a Tucson, Ariz., hospital.

Astronaut's choice: Fly to space or stay with wife

February 2, 2011

(AP) -- Will he fly or not? There are hints that astronaut Mark Kelly will blast into space in April, as commander of Endeavour's final voyage. That would mean leaving his wounded wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, to continue ...

Space flight by Giffords' husband may be in doubt

January 10, 2011

(AP) -- The shocking gundown of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has left NASA reeling: Her astronaut husband was due to rocket away in just three months as perhaps the last space shuttle commander, and her brother-in-law is currently ...

NASA Gives 'Go' for Shuttle Endeavour Launch on Aug. 7

July 26, 2007

On Thursday, NASA managers set Aug. 7 as the official launch date for space shuttle Endeavour's STS-118 mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Fla., is scheduled for 7:02 p.m. ...

Astronaut Ben Drew assigned to STS-118

May 3, 2007

Astronaut and Air Force Col. Benjamin Drew has been assigned to the STS-118 space shuttle mission, targeted for an August launch, NASA said in Houston.

Recommended for you

Cassini transmits first images from new orbit

December 7, 2016

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has sent to Earth its first views of Saturn's atmosphere since beginning the latest phase of its mission. The new images show scenes from high above Saturn's northern hemisphere, including the planet's ...

ExoMars orbiter images Phobos

December 7, 2016

The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter has imaged the martian moon Phobos as part of a second set of test science measurements made since it arrived at the Red Planet on 19 October.

Earth's days getting longer: study (Update)

December 7, 2016

Earth's days are getting longer but you're not likely to notice any time soon—it would take about 3.3 million years to gain just one minute, according to a study published on Wednesday.

Curiosity rover team examining new drill hiatus

December 6, 2016

NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is studying its surroundings and monitoring the environment, rather than driving or using its arm for science, while the rover team diagnoses an issue with a motor that moves the rover's drill.

Cassini makes first ring-grazing plunge

December 6, 2016

NASA's Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft has made its first close dive past the outer edges of Saturn's rings since beginning its penultimate mission phase on Nov. 30.

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

rwinners
not rated yet Feb 05, 2011
I heard the press announcement and is sounded as if this was a family decision. Not be be questioned by me.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.