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'Pretty good chance' Giffords will be at shuttle launch

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'Pretty good chance' Giffords will be at shuttle launch

  • Kelly speaks at Thursday's news conference.
    Kelly speaks at Thursday's news conference.
  • Giffords
    courtesy Giffords' officeGiffords

There's a "pretty good chance" that U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will attend April's launch of the space shuttle, which will be commanded by her husband, Mark Kelly.

"We still don't know for sure. I'm just awaiting final approval from her doctors," Kelly told reporters Thursday at a news conference at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston.

"She wants to attend. She's been looking forward to this for a long time," he said.

Giffords is "starting to process some of the tragedy" after being recently told about the shootings by her husband and doctors, he said.

Kelly made a brief statement regarding his wife before he and the crew, who all wore turquoise "Gabby" wristbands, took questions about the mission.

Wednesday, Kelly canceled a series of individual interviews scheduled to Thursday.

"I would likely get a lot of questions about her," he said. Kelly wants to focus on the shuttle mission, he said.

His astronaut twin brother, Scott Kelly, canceled interviews earlier this week after interviewers asked him about Giffords.

Giffords is "doing remarkably well" as she recovers from a gunshot wound to the head, her husband said Thursday.

"She's improving every day," Kelly said. "She's starting to walk, talk more, more every day."

"She's starting to process some of the tragedy, that we all went through in January—she's going through that as we speak," he said.

"Despite that, she remains in a very good mood."

Kelly will command the penultimate space shuttle flight when Endeavour blasts off April 19. The 30-year shuttle program will end when Atlantis make a final trip to the International Space Station this summer.

"It's kind of sad to see the space shuttle retire," he said "It's probably the right time to retire the shuttle and move on."

Kelly said that Giffords' hospitalization hasn't interfered in his training for the shuttle flight.

"I'm spending as much time focused on the mission, as though this never even happened to my wife," he said.

"It's always difficult" leaving family behind, he said. "There are people in the military who deploy for much longer periods of time."

Giffords serves on the House Science and Technology Committee, heading up the space subcommittee.

"As one of NASA's biggest supporters in Congress, she was really looking forward to having the opprotunity to be there," Kelly said.

Giffords has not been seen in public since she was shot through the head Jan. 8 in what authorities charge was an assassination attempt.

Six were killed and 13 wounded in the attack, including the congresswoman.

Giffords was moved to a Houston rehab facility two weeks after being wounded. Doctors have said her recovery is "remarkable."

Earlier this month, Jared Lee Loughner, 22, was charged with 49 counts in the Jan. 8 mass shooting at a constituent meet and greet. Not guilty pleas were entered on his behalf by the court.

Fourteen of the charges Loughner faces could result in the death penalty, if the prosecution seeks it. No decision of whether to ask for capital punishment has been made, authorities have said.

Loughner was moved Wednesday from the Tucson prison where he has been held to a federal facility in Springfield, Mo., where he will undergo a compentency examination.

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