NASA braces for Giffords, Obama, huge launch crowd

April 27, 2011 By MARCIA DUNN , AP Aerospace Writer in Astronomy & Space / Space Exploration
STS-134 crew members, from left, Mission Specialists Greg Chamitoff of Canada, Drew Feustel, Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Greg Johnson, Mission Specialists Mike Fincke, and Roberto Vittori of Italy, wave to the media after arriving at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Tuesday, April 26, 2011. Kelly is the husband of wounded Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. The space shuttle Endeavour and her crew of six astronauts, is scheduled to lift off Friday afternoon on an 14-day mission to the international space station. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

(AP) -- NASA officials say they're pleased that space shuttle Endeavour's final launch is expected to attract more than a half-million visitors Friday, including President Barack Obama.

They're also thrilled that the commander's wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, will be on hand for the liftoff.

The only downside is all the traffic tie-ups expected before and after the planned 3:47 p.m. . Good launch weather is forecast, and the countdown is going well.

Giffords left Houston for Cape Canaveral late Wednesday morning. Her husband, Mark Kelly, is leading the six-man crew that will fly Endeavour one last time.

Giffords was shot in the head Jan. 8 in Tucson, Ariz., and has been undergoing rehabilitation in Houston.

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"NASA braces for Giffords, Obama, huge launch crowd" April 27, 2011