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Politics Not In Astronaut Kelly’s Immediate Future

July 2, 2011

NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly squashed rumors that he was considering running for public office Friday – at least for the time being, according to various media reports.

According to Jennifer Bendery of the Huffington Post, Kelly, speaking during a lunchtime National Press Club event in Washington, first joked that he would “go into more detail” about his supposed political ambitions “next week when I visit Iowa and New Hampshire,” before adding that “it must be a really, really slow summer out there” for such speculation to occur.

Kelly, who announced last month that he would be retiring from the US space agency on October 1, is the husband of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords, who is recovering from injuries sustained in a failed assassination attempt in January.

“In all seriousness, my main focus right now, and for the foreseeable future, is Gabby’s recovery and also spending some more time with my kids,” Kelly said, according to Bendery. “She’s the politician in the family; I’m the space guy. I see no reason to change that right now.”

According to Donna Leinwand Leger of USA Today, the 47-year-old New Jersey native also noted that Giffords was “doing very well” and was “sorry she couldn’t be here today.”

Arizona Congresswoman is currently undergoing outpatient treatment at a Houston-area rehabilitation center. She made her first public appearance since the shooting in late June, at a NASA event honoring her husband and his Space Shuttle Endeavor crewmates for their May voyage to the International Space Station (ISS).

In a statement posted to his Facebook page on June 21, Kelly, a veteran of the Gulf War who flew his first NASA mission in 2001, said, “Words cannot convey my deep gratitude for the opportunities I have been given to serve our great nation. From the day I entered the United States Merchant Marine Academy in the summer of 1982 to the moment I landed the Space Shuttle Endeavour three weeks ago, it has been my privilege to advance the ideals that define the United States of America.”

“This was not an easy decision,” he added. “As life takes unexpected turns we frequently come to a crossroads. I am at this point today. Gabrielle is working hard every day on her mission of recovery. I want to be by her side. Stepping aside from my work in the Navy and at NASA will allow me to be with her and with my two daughters. I love them all very much and there is no doubt that we will move forward together. After some time off, I will look at new opportunities and am hopeful that one day I will again serve our country.”

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