Space Shuttle Astronauts, Including Gabrielle Giffords' Husband, Mark Kelly, Arrive for Launch

VIDEO: Bob Woodruff on the road to recovery for the congresswoman.
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The countdown in Florida isn't for the royal wedding; it is for the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour. Hundreds of thousands of spectators won't be sitting in front a TV watching a wedding; they will be camped along the roads leading to the Kennedy Space Center. Endeavour's mission is the second to last space shuttle scheduled to launch, and many would rather watch a live rocket blasting off into space then catch reruns of the wedding.

Commander Mark Kelly is counting as well. He is waiting until his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, arrives to watch his space shuttle blast off on Friday afternoon.

NASA is flying Giffords to Florida from Houston, and preparing a secluded place for her to view the launch, but not releasing any details about her travel at her family's request. Giffords will not make any public appearances, and her staff is debating whether it will release any new photos of the congresswoman.

Giffords has been recovering at TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, undergoing rehabilitation for a gunshot wound to her head after a gunman opened fire outside a Tucson grocery store in January, killing six people and wounding 13 others, including Giffords. Doctors decided she had made enough progress to leave the hospital and go to Florida to watch her husband make history commanding Endeavour's last flight.

Spend any time with the crew of this mission, STS-134, and you quickly see how close they are to each other. Their families landed before they did at the Kennedy Space Center, all wearing black T-shirts with "Endeavour STS-134" in glitter on the front.

They cheered, waved, blew kisses as the astronauts flew over the landing site to see their orbiter on the launch pad. Their children range in age from toddlers to teenagers but even the teenagers were elated to see their dads before launch.

Mark Kelly wished Happy Birthday to his crewmember Drew Feustel's' boys, Ari and Aden. Feustel's wife Indi joked with her husband, who is the lead spacewalker on this mission, "Did you remember to leave the credit card for me?"

Feustel told ABC news earlier this month how happy he was that Mark Kelly came back to command this mission. They have bonded, he says, over the 18 months of training.

"We are having a lot of fun everybody is having a good time," Feustel said. "Everyone has a very unique personality on this crew. There are not a lot of similarities with their backgrounds, or even who we are, but somehow all the oddballs fit together."

Kelly's Pilot, Greg Johnson, says this group of "oddball" astronauts work well because of Kelly's leadership.

"The commander's job is a very complicated job, especially for this flight," said Kelly. "We have a group that comes from a lot of different backgrounds, but we have a strong team. The commander sets the tone for the mission, and ultimately the commander is responsible for everything on the mission."

Clearly, Kelly has had much on his mind. He has repeatedly said how important it was to have his wife at the launch site when they ignite the main engines on the orbiter and it roars into space.

This mission is a family affair. Greg Chamitoff is the veteran of a space station mission. His twins, Natasha and Dmitri, are six now. His wife, Chantal Caviness, makes the launch a little less scary for her children with a clever strategy, a big stick-on button.

"They counted down, pushed the button and the shuttle launched, so they thought they sent me, which was really funny." Chamitoff says his daughter has set a time limit on his mission. "My daughter says I can go for nine days but not for more than nine days."

Endeavour's mission is scheduled for 14 days, an ambitious mission to deliver and install the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a physics platform to help prove, or disprove, the Big Bang theory of the beginning of our universe.

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