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Giffords' husband to decide on space trip in mid-February

The astronaut husband of a U.S. congresswoman seriously wounded when she was shot in head will decide by mid-February whether to join the last NASA shuttle launch as scheduled, the space agency said Sunday.
Handout shows NASA Shuttle Commander Kelly waving from a medical transport plane bound for Houston, after his wife was carried aboard in Tucson, Arizona
NASA Shuttle Commander Mark Kelly, the husband of U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), waves from a medical transport plane bound for Houston, after his wife was carried aboard in Tucson, Arizona, on Jan. 21Ho / Reuters
/ Source: Reuters

The astronaut husband of a U.S. congresswoman seriously wounded when she was shot in head will decide by mid-February whether to join a NASA shuttle mission as scheduled, the space agency said Sunday.

Mark Kelly, the commander of April's Endeavour mission, has been on leave to tend to his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., since the Jan. 8 attack in Tucson that killed six and wounded 13.

"I believe Mark is planning to decide in the next few weeks whether he can resume training and of course he will be candid with the space shuttle crew," NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said.

"It is an important thing to them as a family, but they have to balance their priorities," Garver said during a visit to Israel's Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies.

"So I think we'll be having that decision in mid-February."

Giffords was transferred to a rehabilitation facility in Houston on Jan. 21 after undergoing hospital treatment.

NASA has a backup crew member in training for Endeavour, which is due to fly the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the International Space Station in April.

At one point, Endeavour was scheduled to be the last shuttle flight, but NASA recently added a June flight by the shuttle Atlantis to its launch schedule. That flight would bring up a year's worth of supplies for the space station. NASA says Congress still has to appropriate the extra funding needed for that mission.