April 30, 2011 in Nation/World

President meets with Giffords, Endeavour crew at space center

Associated Press photo

President Barack Obama meets with space shuttle Endeavour commander Mark Kelly and other shuttle astronauts Friday after their launch was scrubbed.
(Full-size photo)

 There was no shuttle launch to see, but President Barack Obama’s trip to Cape Canaveral Friday did include a meeting with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., the first since he saw her in a Tucson, Ariz., hospital just after a January shooting that nearly took her life.

 A White House official said the meeting lasted approximately 10 minutes, and took place before he met with the crew of Endeavour. The shuttle’s planned Friday launch was scuttled because of technical issues.

 The shuttle crew includes commander Mark Kelly, Giffords’ husband. He updated the president on her condition before the two went to see her.

 “I bet you were hoping to see a rocket launch today,” Kelly said to the president, according to the White House official.

 “We were hoping to see you,” Obama responded.

The president told Endeavour’s six astronauts he is still hoping to get back to Florida for a shuttle launch.

 “One more chance, we may be able to get down here,” Obama said.

 The first family also toured the Kennedy Space Center’s orbital processing facility on their visit. They were able to inspect another shuttle, Atlantis, which is scheduled for launch in June. It will be the last manned U.S. space mission.

 “Think about that: eight minutes and you’re up in space,” Obama told his daughters during the tour.

Tribune Washington bureau

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