Astronaut Mark Kelly Says Wife Cleared to Attend Shuttle Launch

April 25, 2011 - 5:34 AM

Mark Kelly

In this April 19, 2011 photo released by The Arizona Republic, Mark Kelly, astronaut and husband of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, talks about his preparations for the second-to-last space shuttle flight. (AP Photo/The Arizona Republic, Cheryl Evans)

Houston (AP) - Doctors have given Rep. Gabrielle Giffords the go-ahead to travel to Cape Canaveral this week to watch husband Mark Kelly's space shuttle launch, Kelly says.

The trip will be the first for the Arizona congresswoman since she was flown from Tucson to Houston more than three months ago to recover after she was shot in the head during a shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz.

Kelly said during an interview with CBS' Katie Couric that Giffords will witness the launch of Endeavor, which is scheduled for 3:47 p.m. Friday. Kelly is the commander of the mission.

"I've met with her doctors, her neurosurgeon and her doctors, and ... they've given us permission to take her down to the launch," Kelly said in the interview in Houston. The network statement did not specify when the interview occurred.

CBS released excerpts of the interview Sunday, and it was scheduled to air Monday evening.

James Harsfield, spokesman for NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, referred all questions about Giffords to the congresswoman's office, where there was no immediate comment.

President Barack Obama and the first family also are scheduled to watch the launch, although it's unclear if they will watch it with Giffords.

Families view launches at Kennedy Space Center from a restricted area, and there are no plans for Giffords to make a public appearance.

Giffords went to Kelly's last launch in 2008, when he commanded the space shuttle Discovery. The two married in 2007.

The shooting happened as Giffords was holding a community outreach event in the parking lot of a Tucson shopping center. A gunman killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Giffords.

Jared Lee Loughner, 22, has pleaded not guilty to charges stemming from the attack and is in custody.

Giffords has not been seen publicly since the shooting and has spent the last three 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.