April 27, 2018
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Giffords staff planning for space shuttle launch

Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords | AP FILE
Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords | AP FILE
Gabrielle Giffords with her husband, NASA astronaut Mark Kelly. Aides to Giffords have been preparing for her to travel to Florida to watch her husband's space shuttle launch planned for the end of April, although doctors have yet to clear her to go.
By AMANDA LEE MYERS, The Associated Press

PHOENIX — Aides to Rep. Gabrielle Giffords have been preparing for her to travel to Florida to watch her husband’s space shuttle launch at the end of the month, although doctors have yet to clear her to go, her office said Friday.

Planning has been ongoing for Giffords’ “anticipated attendance” of the April 29 launch of the space shuttle Endeavor, which will be commanded by her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, the congresswoman’s office said in a statement.

Giffords has not been seen publicly since she was shot in the head in a Jan. 8 mass shooting in Tucson that killed six and wounded 12 others. She has been undergoing intense therapy at a Houston rehabilitation center since late January.

The dates of the congresswoman’s travel haven’t been decided and she will not meet with the media or issue a statement while she is in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said. He and Giffords’ chief of staff, Pia Carusone, plan to hold a news conference after the launch to discuss “her reaction to her husband’s latest mission,” he said.

Giffords likely wouldn’t be seen publicly if she attends the launch, since she won’t meet with the media and families view launches at Kennedy Space Center from a restricted area.

Giffords has spent the last 2½ months relearning how to speak, walk and take care of herself. She has been singing — as part of musical therapy — asking for her favorite foods and visiting with family, friends and her rabbi.

Kelly returned to training for the shuttle launch in February after taking time off to be at his wife’s hospital bedside. He told reporters last month that he’s “pretty hopeful” Giffords will make it to his liftoff.

Endeavor’s two-week trip will be the shuttle’s last and the next-to-last shuttle mission. Shuttle Atlantis will close out the 30-year shuttle program this summer. Kelly and five crewmates will deliver a $2 billion physics experiment to the International Space Station, as well as critical spare parts to keep the orbiting outpost running for another decade.


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