Sen. Bill Nelson: ‘Reasonable to Expect’ Gabrielle Giffords Husband Mark Kelly Will be on Shuttle Mission

Feb 3, 2011 12:50pm

ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:

Astronaut Mark Kelly – the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords — plans to announce tomorrow whether he’ll command the final space shuttle mission in April, and a friend who talked to him today told ABC News that it’s “reasonable to expect” that Kelly will be on board.

Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., a former astronaut, said he spoke with Kelly this morning while he was in Washington to speak at the National Prayer Breakfast. Based on the progress Giffords has made in her recovery from a shooting attack last month, Nelson said he thinks Kelly will choose to be part of the shuttle Endeavor crew.

“He's going to make his announcement tomorrow. I don't know what that's going to be. It is a tough decision for him but I think it's reasonable to expect that he will go on to command this mission in April, because I think Gabby is significantly improving every day,” Nelson, D-Fla., said on ABC’s “Top Line” today.



Nelson pointed out that with Giffords recovering in Houston, he could be near her side while he trains for the shuttle mission – training that’s scheduled to begin next week.

“The question is, is she improving enough so that he does not need to be by her side every day in order for her to continue the improvement? While he's training, she is right there in Houston. He'll still be able to see her. Obviously he would not see her while he goes into quarantine or when he is actually on the mission.”

“But that's only a choice for him and for the leaders of NASA to make. I don't know what that decision is, but that would be my advice from this perspective: If we hear that in fact she is improving as she is, then I think that would be a reasonable choice on his part.”

Whether Kelly should make the trip – the final mission of the U.S. Shuttle program – has been the subject of debate. Read more HERE.


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