Husband of Wounded US Lawmaker to Return to Space

This January 9, 2011 photo released by Congressworman Gabrielle Giffords' office shows Mark Kelly, Giffords' husband, holding Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) hand in her hospital room at the University Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona. Giffords remains in critical condition after being shot in the head after a gunman opened fire during a political event in Tucson on Saturday. (Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Office/Handout )

Feb 5 (KATAKAMI.COM / VOA) — NASA says astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of wounded U.S. lawmaker Gabrielle Giffords, will return to command the space shuttle Endeavour on its final mission in April.

The space agency says Kelly will resume training Monday for the trip to the International Space Station.

At a press conference, Kelly said Giffords’ ability to improve rapidly from a bullet wound in the head influenced his decision to rejoin the mission. He said he originally thought her pace of improvement would be much slower, and that he questioned his future as an astronaut.

Kelly would not share details on Giffords’ condition or prognosis, except to say that doctors think she will make a “really good” recovery.

A NASA official, Brent Jett, said he is glad Kelly is returning to command the mission. He said he is confident Kelly will not be distracted by his wife’s health situation.

Giffords was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in Tuscon, Arizona nearly a month ago.

Giffords was recently moved from Tucson to a rehabilitation hospital in Houston, where Kelly trains at the Johnson Space Center.

Six people were killed in the Arizona shooting rampage on January 8, including a U.S. federal judge and a nine-year-old girl.

Scott Kelly, Mark Kelly’s twin brother and fellow astronaut, said this week he is “absolutely 100 percent confident” his brother will be able to fulfill his responsibilities if he chooses to fly Endeavour. Scott Kelly is the current commander of the International Space Station.

NASA is retiring its shuttle fleet this year.  (*)

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