Friday, February 04, 2011

NASA: Astronaut Mark Kelly To Resume Training For April Flight

Veteran astronaut Mark Kelly will resume training Monday as commander of NASA's penultimate shuttle mission, a flight scheduled for launch from Kennedy Space Center on April 19.

Kelly, the husband of critically wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, has been on personal leave since his wife was shot in the head during an assassination attempt that left six dead and more than a dozen wounded outside a Tucson grocery store on Jan. 8. Kelly has been at his wife's bedside during the initial stages of her recovery.

"I am looking forward to rejoining my STS-134 crew members and finishing our training for the mission," Kelly said in a statement released by NASA. "We have been preparing for more than 18 months, and we will be ready to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the International Space Station and complete the other objectives of the flight. I appreciate the confidence that my NASA management has in me and the rest of my space shuttle crew."

"We are glad to have Mark back," said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "He is a veteran shuttle commander and knows well the demands of the job. We are confident in his ability to successfully lead this mission, and I know I speak for all of NASA in saying 'welcome back'

A news briefing will be held at 3 p.m. EST today at Johnson to discuss Kelly's return. You can watch NASA TV coverage of the briefing here in The Flame Trench. Click the NASA TV box on the right side of the page to launch our NASA TV viewer and live coverage.

ABOUT THE IMAGE: Click to enlarge the NASA image, then click the enlarged image for an ever bigger, more detailed view. The image shows Mark Kelly in the White Room on Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in May 2008. Then commander of STS-124, Kelly was adjusting his harness on the launch and entry suit before entering space shuttle Discovery for launch. The White Room provides access into the shuttle. Discovery is making its 35th flight. The STS-124 mission was the 26th in the assembly of the space station. It was the second of three flights launching components to complete the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Kibo laboratory. Photo credit: NASA/Tom Farrar, Kevin O'Connell, Scott Haun


Jo said...

Way to go, Mark! I know this was a hard decision, but you know that this is what Gabby wants.

I'm sure that neither of you intended to be in the recent press spotlight, but please know that you have enriched the world by showing your love, passion, and dedication for your jobs.

Here, in Cape Canaveral, we raise glasses in cheer to you both!

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