Mark Kelly, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' Husband, Retires as NASA Astronaut

Giffords and Kelly to collaborate on memoir.

ByABC News
June 21, 2011, 12:15 PM

June 21, 2011 — -- Mark Kelly, the astronaut husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, announced today he is retiring from NASA to spend time with his wife and write a memoir with her.

"This was not an easy decision," he wrote on his Facebook page. Public service has been more than a job for me and my family." Rep. Giffords was shot in January in Tucson at an event she was hosting for residents of her Congressional district. Six others died and 13 were injured.

Kelly's retirement from NASA and the Navy, where he has served for 25 years, is effective Oct. 1. He has flown in space four times. He announced this morning that he and his wife have a deal with Scribner's publishers for a joint memoir. They said they will collaborate with Jeffrey Zaslow, best known for his work on Randy Pausch's best-selling "The Last Lecture."

Kelly wrote, "Gabrielle is working hard every day on her mission of recovery. I want to be by her side. Stepping aside from my work in the Navy and at NASA will allow me to be with her and with my two daughters. I love them all very much and there is no doubt that we will move forward together."

After the shooting Kelly faced an awful decision. He was assigned to command the space shuttle Endeavour on its final flight into space, but was unsure he could prepare for the mission while tending to his injured wife. He was finally persuaded she was recovering and was in good hands, and was at the controls when Endeavour lifted off May 16 on a two-week flight to the International Space Station.

The shooting, and the public attention that followed, brought Kelly a measure of fame that few modern astronauts have experienced, and which he never sought. He said he thought the focus should be on the mission, the upcoming end of the space shuttle program, and the $2 billion Alpha-Magnetic Spectrometer Endeavour carried to the space station to explore the makeup of the universe.

"It is in the DNA of our great country to reach for the stars and explore," said Kelly by radio to mission control in the moments before launch. "We must not stop. To all the millions watching today including our spouses, children, family and friends, we thank you for your support."