Entries in Endeavor (3)


NASA to Fly Space Shuttle Endeavour Over Tucson to Honor Gabby Giffords

NASA/ Robert Markowitz(HOUSTON) -- The space shuttle Endeavour is on a 2,700-mile cross-country trip. So you have to wonder why it couldn’t make one small detour -- especially at the request of former astronaut Mark Kelly, who commanded Endeavour’s last mission before it was retired.

Kelly’s wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was struggling to recover from an attempted assassination in Tucson early last year, and his mission to the International Space Station conflicted with her recovery, so his decision to command it was bittersweet, but he had been training for so long and had faith in the medical team treating his wife.

Endeavour is flying a victory lap across the South, taking off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, dropping from 14,000 feet to 1,500 to circle historic locations in space shuttle history. The orbiter, on top of its 747 carrier plane, circled over Houston and the Johnson Space Center Wednesday. Endeavour will overnight in Houston, then head to El Paso, where it will refuel, then arrive in Los Angeles late in the week. It is to go on permanent display at the California Science Center.

Mark Kelly’s request for Endeavour to make a detour and fly over Tucson, so Giffords could see it one last time, doesn’t take it that far out of the way, especially when the idea is for it to be seen anyhow.

The last-minute suggestion was a bit of a surprise to NASA, but late in the day it put out a statement saying it would honor Kelly’s request.

“As part of the delivery of Endeavour to Los Angeles, Endeavour will be flown over the city of Tucson,” said the agency.  “NASA decided to honor that request to pay our respects to a long-time agency supporter in former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and Kelly, who commanded Endeavour’s final mission, STS-134. The flight over Tucson will add no additional time or cost to the delivery of Endeavour.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


First Pictures of Giffords Since Shooting, Walking on Her Own

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images (file)(HOUSTON) -- A fragile but determined Rep. Gabrielle Giffords walked one careful step at a time Wednesday up the steps of a plane that will take her Florida to watch her husband blast off on the final mission of the space shuttle Endeavor.

The gritty walk by Giffords, who was wearing a padded medical helmet, was her first public steps since being shot in the head at a public event in January. The Arizona congresswoman left TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital and boarded a waiting NASA plane at Ellington Airport in Houston.

Giffords was spotted leaving the hospital in a wheelchair and with her face covered before being driven to the airport. At the airport, she walked under her own power and without assistance from the car to the plane stairway and slowly up the steps.

Giffords' staff has tried to keep her out of view from the public, and said she would not be making any public appearances during the Endeavor's launch. Giffords will be joined on Friday by Kelly's three daughters, President Obama and the first lady at Cape Canaveral to watch the launch.

Giffords' husband navy pilot and astronaut Mark Kelly arrived at Florida's Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday.

On Monday, Giffords' staff said the congresswoman had just started learning details of the shooting that injured 13 people and killed 6, including federal judge and a nine-year-old girl.

Kelly's mission, STS 134, is the second to last space shuttle flight for NASA, and will deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer to the space station. AMS will detect particles to prove or disprove the Big Bang Theory of the formation of the universe. Kelly and five other astronauts on this mission are in quarantine now, standard practice before any space shuttle launch to keep the crew healthy for their mission.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Mark Kelly: Gabrielle Giffords Wants to Attend Endeavor Launch

NASA(HOUSTON) --  At a news conference Thursday for the last planned launch of the shuttle Endeavor, Commander Mark Kelly made a brief comment about his wife’s recovery, and then he and the crew of STS-134 answered questions ranging from what songs will play as wake-up calls to practical jokes planned by twin brothers. 

Commander Kelly said that his wife Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ recovery from January's Arizona shooting is progressing apace. “She is starting to walk and talk and is starting to experience the tragedy we went through last January.” He went on to say, “She gets briefings every day from her staff. She wants to attend the launch and there is a pretty good chance she will be there. I am waiting for final approval from her doctors.”

When the moderator of the news conference reminded  the reporters present to focus only on the STS-134 mission, the questions became somewhat more light-hearted.

When asked what songs would be played as wake-up calls, Mission Specialist Drew Feustel said that they wanted the songs to be a surprise, but that two of the songs would be original compositions by winners of a contest held by NASA earlier this year.

Commander Kelly joked with one reporter who asked if he and his brother had ever planned any pranks as identical twins.  “We’ve talked about it since we were kids,” Kelly responded.  He said they recently discussed the idea of switching places while they were together on the upcoming mission (Commander David Kelly is presently aboard the space station).  The commander said that he and his brother could switch shirts and he’d shave his moustache while his brother put on a fake one.  When the reporter asked if he was serious, Kelly laughed and said “Oh yes.”  For the record, the brothers decided not to carry out the prank as Mission Control “probably wouldn’t be too happy with us.”

STS-134 is the 134th shuttle mission, the 35th shuttle flight to the space station, and the 25th and final flight of Endeavour.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio