Gabrielle Giffords aims to return for shuttle launch

By Dan Nowicki, The Arizona Republic

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords intends to return to Cape Canaveral, Fla., to watch NASA make another attempt Monday at launching the space shuttle Endeavour. Liftoff is scheduled for 8:56 a.m. EDT.

“She is planning to attend,” said C.J. Karamargin, the Arizona Democrat’s congressional spokesman. “She wouldn’t miss it. The plan is to be there Monday morning when the Endeavour blasts off.”

Giffords’ astronaut husband, Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, is commanding the mission. She went to Kennedy Space Center for the planned April 29 launch, but it was scrubbed because of an electrical short.

Six Endeavour astronauts led by Kelly plan to return to Kennedy Space Center around 11 a.m. Thursday, and a three-day countdown will pick up at 7 a.m. Friday.

The delay in the 16-day mission to the International Space Station has pushed back the timing of the final shuttle launch, which had been targeted for June 28. The Atlantis launch is now targeted for mid-July, and a final date will be set after Endeavour’s launch.

Giffords, a three-term congresswoman, was shot in the head Jan. 8. Her previous trip was widely viewed as a milestone in her ongoing rehabilitation. NASA provided her transportation, as is custom for spouses of astronauts. Her travel details will not be disclosed.

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