Sun, Feb 06, 2011 - Page 4 News List

Mark Kelly decides to return to space

AP, HOUSTON

Mark Kelly, husband of US Representative Gabrielle Giffords

Photo: AFP

The astronaut husband of US Representative Gabrielle Giffords said on Friday his wounded wife would embrace his decision to rocket into space in two months and he expects her to be well enough to be at his launch.

Space shuttle commander Captain Mark Kelly refused to say whether his wife took part in his decision and declined to go into details about her condition or whether she can communicate.

“I know her very well and she would be very comfortable with the decision that I made,” Kelly told reporters.

His decision, announced on Friday, comes just four weeks after Giffords was shot in the head outside a Tucson, Arizona, supermarket. His choice to lead space shuttle Endeavour’s final voyage was made easier, he said, by his wife’s rapid progress in rehabilitation.

The 46-year-old astronaut said he never imagined in the immediate aftermath of the shooting that he would ever fly the two-week mission. He immediately quit training after the Jan. 8 shooting.

Kelly said he told her mother there was no way he would leave Giffords’ side and Gloria Giffords said, “What, are you kidding me?”

Within two weeks, Giffords was transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston, and that’s when he started reconsidering. He weighed how much time he could spend with her, and how much he needed to be with his crew at Johnson Space Center on the outskirts of Houston.

“So that’s a debate I had with myself,” he said.

The fact that she’s busy all day in rehab was key, he added.

Kelly said their parents, siblings and his teenage daughters were “completely unanimous.”

“Everybody felt that this was the right thing for me to do,” he said.

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