Kelly To Command Endeavor


Astronaut Mark Kelly apparently agrees with NASA that the safest thing for the final flight of the shuttle Endeavor is for him to command the mission. Kelly announced Friday he will leave the bedside of his severely injured wife Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to resume training for the left seat of the mission, which is scheduled to launch April 19. Kelly told ABC’s Diane Sawyer he doesn’t need the air miles and his decision to command the flight is “the right thing for me to do.” Giffords was shot through the head in an assassination attempt Jan. 8 in Tucson and is in rehabilitation in Houston, where Kelly will resume training. “I’ve flown in space three times. I don’t have to do it again,” Kelly said in the interview. “My number-one goal is to make sure that my crew is safe and that they can execute this mission safely.”

NASA earlier suggested that Kelly was the right man for the job as long as he was able to keep his head above the clouds. “It reduces our mission risk from that perspective, if we feel he is ready to go and would be undistracted by the circumstances then we will decide on that,” said Chief Astronaut Peggy Whitson. “But he, he is a tough guy, as you have seen. He’s got his stuff together.” Kelly said he’s sure Giffords would support his decision and he expects her to be well enough to attend the launch.

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