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U.S. Rep. Giffords planning to attend husband's shuttle launch

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has a brain injury from a gunshot to the head in January
  • Her husband is Capt. Mark Kelly, commander of the April 29 space shuttle mission
  • Giffords won't be making any public remarks while attending the launch

(CNN) -- U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, recovering from being shot in the head in a January assassination attempt, is planning to attend the April 29 launch of space shuttle Endeavour that will be commanded by her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, her spokeswoman said Friday.

Giffords' physicians will have the final word on whether Giffords will be able to attend the launch three weeks from now, but Giffords' congressional office is already making plans for her attendance, said her communications director, C.J. Karamargin.

Giffords, who is recovering at TIRR Memorial Hermann hospital in Houston, won't meet with the media or make a statement while she is at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the 36th shuttle mission to the International Space Station, Karamargin said in a news release.

After the launch, Giffords' staff is scheduled to discuss publicly her reaction to her husband's latest mission.

Kelly will be commanding a crew of four other Americans and one astronaut from the European Space Agency.

NASA has said the shuttle will be delivering equipment and spare parts for the station, including two communications antennas; a high-pressure gas tank; parts for Dextre, a robot attached to the outside of the space station; and micrometeoroid debris shields.

At a news conference last month, Kelly said his wife was doing "remarkably well."

"She's improving every day," he said, "and in the realm of brain injuries, that is very significant and pretty rare."

At the end of the news conference, Kelly was asked whether training for this mission was more challenging given the obvious distractions of his wife's recovery.

"I think it would have been really challenging if this was my first shuttle flight or if it was even my first flight as a commander of the space shuttle," said Kelly, who has flown three times before -- twice as pilot and once as a commander.

An Arizona Democrat, Giffords is a member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, and she attended Kelly's most recent launch when he commanded the space shuttle Discovery in 2008. His upcoming mission is scheduled to be the last flight for Endeavour and the next-to-last space shuttle flight before the fleet is retired.