Mark Kelly, the astronaut husband of the U.S. Congresswoman wounded in the recent Arizona shooting, said that her remarkable progress towards health helped him decide to head back to space.
Representative Gabrielle Giffords is currently in rehabilitation in Houston, Texas, and while specific details have not been released to prevent further speculation on her condition, she is making a “lightning speed” recovery according to one of her doctors.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly
An improvement rate cited by one doctor as being in the top 1 percent of brain injury cases prompted husband Kelly to resume training for an upcoming space mission scheduled for liftoff on April 19.
“I started to think about the mission and my crew, fact that I’ve been training for it for nearly a year and a half,” said Kelly, commander of the space shuttle Endeavour, at a press conference on Friday.
“Factors included what Gabrielle would want me to do and what her parents, my family would like. I made the decision that I would like to return and command STS-134.”
Giffords was shot outside a Tuscon, Arizona, supermarket as she met with constituents on Jan. 8 in a rampage that left six dead and 13 injured.
Doctors have confirmed she has weakness on her right side after the bullet hit the left half of her brain, and a valve would need to be inserted into her breathing tube to assist with talking. Further information on her recovery was not provided.
After spending two weeks in intensive care, Giffords was transferred to Houston for rehabilitation closer to where Kelly lives, and to the Johnson Space Center where training for his mission will continue.