published Friday, February 4th, 2011

Official: Giffords’ astronaut husband going to fly

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The astronaut husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has made his choice. He’s headed to space in April.

An official close to the space shuttle program confirmed Friday morning that astronaut Mark Kelly will be aboard Endeavour for its final flight. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the information has not yet been made public.

Kelly is holding a news conference at Johnson Space Center in Houston on Friday afternoon.

He took a leave from training after his wife was shot in the head outside a Tucson, Ariz., supermarket as she met with constituents on Jan. 8. Six people were killed and 13 were injured in the rampage; a 22-year-old suspect is in custody.

The Arizona congresswoman was in intensive care for two weeks before she was transferred to Houston, where she is undergoing rehab.

Kelly, 46, spent the past month debating whether to step down as commander of Endeavour’s two-week mission. As he agonized over the decision, NASA named a backup commander, Rick Sturckow, who joined the crew for training.

Liftoff is targeted for April 19.

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