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Spokesman: Giffords plans to attend husband's shuttle launch in April

By the CNN Wire Staff
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, will command the space shuttle Endeavor in April.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, will command the space shuttle Endeavor in April.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Rep. Giffords plans to go to the shuttle Endeavour launch, her spokesman says
  • Her husband, Mark Kelly, will command the mission -- which will be the Endeavour's last
  • The hospital where Giffords is rehabbing said Wednesday she "continues to improve"
  • The man accused of shooting her and 18 others has been indicted on 49 charges

(CNN) -- U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords plans to attend the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour next month -- a little more than three months after she was shot in the head outside a Tucson, Arizona, supermarket -- her spokesman said.

Giffords' husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, will command the shuttle. After spending the days after the shooting at his wife's hospital bedside, he decided in February that would continue his assignment as the mission commander. At the time, Giffords' spokesman C.J. Karamargin said the Arizona Democrat "fully understands" that her husband is flying the shuttle and supports his decision.

"I have every intention for her to be at the launch," Kelly said then.

On Thursday, Karamargin said that Giffords is well enough to make the trip from Texas to Cape Canaveral, Florida.

When asked when she will begin heading east for Florida, he said, "We're not even there yet in the planning process."

According to NASA's website, the spacecraft is set to lift off at 7:48 p.m. on April 19 from Kennedy Space Center. It will be the final mission for the Endeavour, and the second-to-last one for the entire space shuttle fleet.

Giffords has been at TIRR Memorial Hermann rehabilitation hospital in Houston -- not far from where Kelly does most of his training -- since January, when she was moved there from University Medical Center in Tucson.

Doctors treating Giffords have scheduled a Friday-morning news conference to provide an update on her progress.

"Two months after her injury, the congresswoman continues to improve," the Houston hospital said late Wednesday night in a statement.

Giffords was shot at a "Congress on Your Corner" event in the parking lot of Safeway grocery store in her hometown.

Six people were killed in the incident. The congresswoman, who authorities say was the main target, was among 13 injured.

On Wednesday, a federal judge in Arizona entered "not guilty" pleas on behalf of Jared Lee Loughner, a 22-year-old Arizona man who faces 49 counts -- including murder and attempted murder -- related to the shooting.

Judge Larry Burns also scheduled a May 25 competency hearing for Loughner, and attorneys on both sides will be allowed to hire their own experts to evaluate Loughner's competency to stand trial.

CNN's Danielle Dellorto contributed to this report.

 
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