5 Feb 2011

Congresswoman's husband returns to duty at NASA

7:22 am on 5 February 2011

The husband of a US politician who was shot and wounded in Arizona last month, is to command the final mission of the space shuttle Endeavour in April.

NASA said Mark Kelly, husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, will resume training as mission commander on Monday. The mission will be his fourth trip to space.

His twin brother Scott Kelly is currently the commander of the International Space Station.

Commander Kelly, 46, was training in Houston for the mission when his wife was shot while holding a constituent meeting in Tucson, Arizona, on 8 January. Six people were killed and 13 others wounded.

Congresswoman Giffords, 40, is now having rehabilitation therapy in Houston after being shot in the head.

Commander Kelly's decision to resume mission training at a news conference was announced at Johnson Space Center in Houston on Friday.

In a statement issued by NASA, Commander Kelly said: "I am looking forward to rejoining my STS-134 crew members and finishing our training for the mission.

"We have been preparing for more than 18 months ... I appreciate the confidence that my NASA management has in me and the rest of my space shuttle crew."

The BBC reports the launch of the shuttle is scheduled for 19 April and would last about two weeks. It will be the 134th and final scheduled flight of the shuttle, which is 20 years old.