February 4, 2011

Commander Mark Kelly To Resume Training Monday

NASA announced on Friday that astronaut Mark Kelly will resume training as commander of the STS-134 space shuttle mission on Monday February 7th after caring for his wounded wife, congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded in a Tucson, Arizona shooting.

"I am looking forward to rejoining my STS-134 crew members and finishing our training for the mission," Kelly said in a statement.

"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," Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston said in a press release. "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'.

Kelly's wife was shot in the head while meeting with constituents in January.  He has stayed away from work for several weeks to focus on his wife's recovery.

"Every day she gets a little bit better," he said at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington. "The neurosurgeons and neurologists tell me that that's a great sign. The slope of that curve is very important."

He was the commander of the shuttle Discovery's 2008 flight to the International Space station and was pilot on two others.  He joined the astronaut corps in1996.

A news briefing will be held today at Johnson to discuss Kelly's return at 2 p.m. on NASA television.


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