March 25, 2011 in Nation/World

Giffords ‘improving every day’

Husband says she wants to attend launch
Marcia Dunn Associated Press
 

HOUSTON – The astronaut husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said Thursday that she wants to be at his shuttle launch next month. And she will be, he said, pending final approval from her doctors.

Giffords is beginning to cope with the shooting in January that injured 12 others and killed six, Kelly said. She’s doing “remarkably well,” he told reporters at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

The congresswoman was shot in the head in Tucson, Ariz., while meeting with constituents.

“She’s improving every day – and in the realm of brain injuries that is very significant and pretty rare,” Kelly said. “She’s starting to walk, talk more – more every day.”

Two weeks ago, Giffords’ doctors said she doesn’t remember the shooting, but Kelly told her about it.

“She’s starting to process some of the tragedy that we all went through in January,” her husband said. “Despite that, she remains in a very good mood.”

Kelly spoke at the traditional preflight news conference for shuttle crews. With all six crew members wearing turquoise “Gabby” wristbands, Kelly spoke first, reading from a statement before the astronauts took questions. He said he wanted reporters to focus on the shuttle mission, not his wife’s recovery.

On Tuesday, his identical twin, Scott, also an astronaut, canceled a series of interviews after the first few TV journalists asked him about Giffords. Scott Kelly arrived in Houston last week after five months aboard the International Space Station.

“She was really happy to see my brother last week after he returned from space,” Mark Kelly said.

Kelly, 47, is the commander of NASA’s next-to-last shuttle flight. Shuttle Endeavour is due to blast off for the final time April 19, carrying up a $2 billion physics experiment to the space station. The fleet is retiring after shuttle Atlantis makes one last trip to the space station this summer.

Kelly quit training after his wife was shot. But a month later he decided to fly the two-week mission. Giffords almost certainly would view the launch from a restricted area reserved for the crew’s families at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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