February 5, 2011 in Nation/World

As Giffords improves, husband to fly shuttle

Marcia Dunn Associated Press
 

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The astronaut husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will head to space in April, a decision announced almost one month to the day since his wife was shot in the head.

Her doctors say the congresswoman is making good progress in rehab in Houston, where husband Mark Kelly will resume training Monday for shuttle Endeavour’s final voyage. One doctor has described her recovery as “lightning speed.”

NASA confirmed late Friday morning that Kelly will be aboard Endeavour as commander of the two-week mission.

Kelly, who’s been on leave since the shooting, said in a news release that he’s looking forward to rejoining his crew and finishing all the training. He noted that they have been preparing for the space station delivery mission for more than 18 months and will be ready to carry it out.

“I appreciate the confidence that my NASA management has in me and the rest of my space shuttle crew,” Kelly said.

Kelly’s wife was gunned down outside a Tucson, Ariz., supermarket as she met with constituents on Jan. 8. Six people were killed and 13 were injured in the rampage.

Specific details of Giffords’ recovery have not been released, including whether she’s able to speak. Last week, doctors said she would have a valve inserted into her breathing tube to help her talk. They said she could breathe on her own but they weren’t going to remove the tube immediately. She was shot in the left side of her brain and doctors have said she had weakness on her right side.

Her hospital, TIRR Memorial Hermann, last week said it would not provide any more information on her condition. In a Twitter update Wednesday, Mark Kelly said Giffords is making “Lots of progress!”

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