Aides for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords are preparing for her to travel to Florida to watch her husband’s space shuttle launch at the end of the month, although doctors have yet to clear her to go, her office said Friday.
Planning has been ongoing for Giffords’ “anticipated attendance” of the April 29 launch of the space shuttle Endeavor, which will be commanded by her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, the congresswoman’s office said in a statement.
Giffords has not been seen publicly since she was shot in the head in a Jan. 8 mass shooting in Tucson that killed six and wounded 12 others. She has been undergoing intense therapy at a Houston rehabilitation center since late January.
“The congresswoman wants to go, and Mark very much would like her to be there,” her spokesman, C.J. Karamargin, said. “They’ve always been very supportive of each other’s careers and that hasn’t changed.”
The dates of the congresswoman’s travel haven’t been decided and she will not meet with the media or issue a statement while she is in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Karamargin said. He and Giffords’ chief of staff, Pia Carusone, planned to hold a news conference after the launch to discuss “her reaction to her husband’s latest mission,” Karamargin said.
“The thinking on our part is that it’s going to be a potential emotional moment, so we just thought it’d be best for the staff to speak,” he said.
Giffords may not be seen publicly if she attends the launch, since she won’t meet with the media, and families view launches at Kennedy Space Center from a restricted area. But Karamargin said that was still under discussion.
Giffords has spent the last 2½ months relearning how to speak, walk and take care of herself. She has been singing — as part of musical therapy — asking for her favorite foods and visiting with family, friends and her rabbi.
Kelly returned to training for the shuttle launch in February after taking time off to be at his wife’s hospital bedside. He told reporters last month that he’s “pretty hopeful” Giffords will make it to his liftoff.
Endeavor’s two-week trip will be the last for that shuttle and the next-to-last shuttle mission. Shuttle Atlantis will close out the 30-year shuttle program this summer. Kelly and five crewmates will deliver a $2 billion physics experiment to the International Space Station, as well as critical spare parts to keep the orbiting outpost running for another decade.
Giffords went to Kelly’s last launch in 2008, when he commanded the space shuttle Discovery.