Mark Kelly
Image: Wikimedia Commons

Astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, will return to space on the next shuttle flight. Kelly has been debating whether to join the next Space Shuttle mission because his wife is recovering from wounds sustained in the Tuscon shootings. Kelly has decided he will be aboard the next flight of the shuttle Endeavor.

Shuttle Endeavour will launch with Mark Kelly as commander

It was recently announced that the husband of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Mark Kelly, would serve as shuttle commander for the upcoming shuttle mission, according to the New York Times. Kelly, a veteran astronaut, has been on three previous shuttle missions and was poised to take the lead role in the upcoming shuttle mission on the Space Shuttle Endeavour, which has been delayed for months for technical issues. In the meantime, Kelly was in training at the NASA center in Houston, Texas, when his wife, Gabrielle Giffords, was critically wounded during the Tuscon shootings allegedly carried out by Jared Lee Loughner. Kelly has resumed training with the crew of shuttle mission STS 134, and Congresswoman Giffords has been moved to a physical rehabilitation facility in Houston.

Last flight of the Endeavour

The mission that Kelly will serve as shuttle commander for will likely be bittersweet for those aboard. This mission is scheduled to be the last flight of the Shuttle Endeavour and the second to last flight of the Space Shuttle program entirely. President George W. Bush scheduled an end to the shuttle program after the Space Shuttle Columbia exploded in the upper atmosphere in Feb., 2003. President Obama canceled the Constellation Program, which would have replaced the shuttle with the Aries rockets and Orion spacecraft. Constellation was similar in many ways to the Apollo program.

Federal charges for Jared Loughner

Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged shooter in the deadly Tuscon shootings that wounded Congresswoman Giffords, will face federal charges and trials before facing charges from the state of Arizona, according to the Los Angeles Times. It is unknown whether he will face the death penalty, but it cannot be ruled out. Loughner will have to go through several years of federal trials before he receives a verdict and a sentence and then go through the same state process. It may be almost a decade before he begins serving his sentence.


New York Times:

Los Angeles Times:,0,3226305.story

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