CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – President Barack Obama and his family will attend next week’s launch of Endeavour, NASA’s next-to-last space shuttle flight commanded by the husband of critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
A White House official said Wednesday that the president would be at the April 29 liftoff, along with wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha.
Commander Mark Kelly will lead the six-man shuttle crew to the International Space Station. He has said he hopes his wife will be there when he blasts off, and he is awaiting her doctors’ final approval.
Giffords, a Democrat from Arizona, was shot in the head during a meeting with constituents in Tucson on Jan. 8. Kelly took a month’s leave to be at her hospital bedside, then returned to Houston to resume flight training. She’s now at a Houston hospital undergoing extensive rehab.
Only two sitting presidents have witnessed a manned rocket launch. President Richard Nixon was on hand for the Nov. 14, 1969, launch of Apollo 12 to the moon. President Bill Clinton and his wife saw Sen. John Glenn fly aboard shuttle Discovery on Oct. 29, 1998.