U.S. Rep Gabrielle Giffords
U.S. Rep Gibrielle Giffords is happy to have her husband back on Earth. / Image: bill85704/Flickr/CC BY

Wounded U.S. rep. Gabrielle Giffords reunited Thursday with her astronaut husband Mark Kelly for the first time in more than two weeks. Kelly had been in space on the final mission of the space shuttle Endeavour.

A very touching moment

“It was actually a very touching moment,” Giffords spokesman C.J. Karamargin said Thursday evening. “They are smiling ear-to-ear and haven’t let go of each others’ hands.”

The couple had last been together on May 16, the day before the shuttle Endeavour took off on its 16-day mission to the International Space Station.

Hundreds cheer landing

Kelly returned to Earth with the other five members of his crew Wednesday evening. They were greeted by a cheering crowd of several hundred at Houston’s Ellington Field. Giffords, who was wounded in a Tucson shooting spree last January, did not attend the landing ceremony.

Kelly rushes to his wife

Kelly hurried to Gifford’s rehabilitation center immediately after a public celebration. He entered while Giffords was still putting on her makeup, according to Karamargin.

Giffords and Kelly spoke by telephone nearly every day of the mission and once by video transmission.

Shuttle to be displayed in L.A.

Kelly said the shuttle Endeavour, which has been in use for the last 19 years, will be sent to the California Science Center in Los Angeles. “Its future is going to be to continue to inspire young people to pursue careers in science, engineering and math, and it’s going to do that for a very long time,” he said.

The shuttle Endeavour has been moved to a processing bay, where it will remain for the several months needed to prepare it for display. It is scheduled to make its Los Angeles appearance in the fall of 2012.

Kelly praised by Space Center director

Mike Coats, a former astronaut and now the director of the Johnson Space Center, praised Kelly for the way he handled his NASA duties and his personal hardships. “He’s probably had a bigger challenge than most. He did a terrific job.”

Sources

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/02/gabrielle-giffords-mark-kelly-reunite_n_870707.html
Newser: http://www.newser.com/story/120101/mark-kelly-gabrielle-giffords-reunite-hold-hands-for-2-hours.html
ABC: http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?section=news/national_world&id=8168111

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