NASA astronaut Mark Kelly will resume training as commander of the STS-134 space shuttle mission on Monday, Feb. 7. With the exception of some proficiency training, Kelly has been on personal leave since Jan. 8 to care for his wife, congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded in a Tucson, Ariz. shooting.
“I am looking forward to rejoining my STS-134 crew members and finishing our training for the mission,” Kelly said. “We have been preparing for more than 18 months, and we will be ready to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the International Space Station and complete the other objectives of the flight. I appreciate the confidence that my NASA management has in me and the rest of my space shuttle crew.”
“We are glad to have Mark back,” said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “He is a veteran shuttle commander and knows well the demands of the job. We are confident in his ability to successfully lead this mission, and I know I speak for all of NASA in saying ‘welcome back’.
Kelly made the decision to rejoin the crew of STS-134 as its commander after he was convinced that his wife, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was improving consistently after being critically wounded in a Tucson, Ariz. shooting, the astronaut said Friday.
“Things fell into place and she improved very fast, so the decision became easier over time,” Kelly said. “I know my wife very well and I know what she would want, so that makes the decision easier.”
Kelly had been on personal leave since the Jan. 8 shooting to care for his wife. Before announcing the decision, Kelly returned to training for a week, including taking a check-out flight in a T-38 jet trainer and running through an ascent/entry simulation.
Astronauts Brent Jett and Whitson, who as director of Flight Crew Operations and chief astronaut, respectively, are in charge of flight assignments, said they are certain Kelly is ready to handle the training and the spaceflight. Endeavour is targeted for launch April 19 on a mission to the International Space Station.
“I’m very glad to have Mark back as commander of STS-134,” Jett said.
On Monday, Feb. 7, NASA TV will broadcast video b-roll of Kelly’s first training session with his crew at 11:30 a.m. CST. Additional b-roll of his first day of training will air at 3 p.m. The training sessions will not be available for filming by news media.
Astronaut Rick Sturckow, the backup commander for the mission, will resume his role as the deputy chief of the Astronaut Office. For more information about the STS-134 mission and crew, visit:
Kelly’s biography can be found at: