Mark Kelly
Charles Dharapak  /  AP
NASA space shuttle Capt. Mark Kelly, husband of wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., listens during a luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington on Friday.
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updated 7/1/2011 5:04:26 PM ET 2011-07-01T21:04:26

Astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of wounded U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, quashed rumors Friday that he might run for public office after he retires from NASA later this year.

Speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., Kelly said he planned to spend time with his kids and his wife, who was shot in the head during an assassination attempt earlier this year.

"Do I plan to run for public office? I just find that interesting," Kelly said. "It means it must be a really slow summer."

Laughing, Kelly added: "I'll go into that more next week when I visit Iowa and New Hampshire," jokingly referring to the states with early presidential primaries.

Kelly announced last week that he would retire as a NASA astronaut and as a captain in the U.S. Navy, effective Oct. 1. Giffords, D-Ariz., has not said whether she plans to resume office once she is fully recovered.

"She's the politician and I'm the space guy, and I see no reason to change that now," Kelly said.

He said that Giffords is doing very well in her recovery. She is undergoing outpatient treatment at TIRR Memorial Hermann, a rehabilitation hospital in Houston, and made her first public appearance earlier this week at a NASA event honoring Kelly and his crewmates for their May shuttle flight.

Kelly has made four trips to space during his NASA career, including the most recent space shuttle flight, the final trip of shuttle Endeavour in May.

NASA is planning to launch the last-ever space shuttle mission July 8. After that, its three shuttle orbiters will be retired to museums.

"As Atlantis heads off on its last mission, we can all be a little sad for a little while, but also know that NASA will open a new and exciting chapter," Kelly said.

The space agency plans to develop a rocket and spaceship to take astronauts on voyages to an asteroid and Mars.

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NASA's chief, Charles Bolden, also spoke at the event, emphasizing that the retirement of the space shuttles does not herald the end of spaceflight for NASA.

"We are not ending human spaceflight, we are recommitting ourselves to it and taking the necessary — and difficult — steps today to ensure America's pre-eminence in human spaceflight for years to come."

You can follow Space.com senior writer Clara Moskowitz onTwitter @ClaraMoskowitz.Follow Space.com for the latest in space science and exploration news on Twitter@Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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