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Entries in Gabrielle Giffords (86)

Monday
May232011

Endeavour Crew Chats with Tucson School Kids from Space

NASA(TUCSON, Ariz.) -- Elementary school classmates of the youngest victim of the deadly January Tucson, Ariz., shootings that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz. severely wounded, chatted Sunday with space shuttle Endeavour astronauts Mark Kelly and Mike Fincke while they were in orbit.

The Sunday night talk at Mesa Verde Elementary School was a priority for Kelly, the father of two teenage girls, and the husband of Rep. Giffords. Kelly has been haunted by Christina's death, and he told ABC News' Diane Sawyer earlier this year it agonized him when he thought about it.

One thing Kelly could give was his time, and that's why students crowded into school on a Sunday night to talk to the astronauts. He told them that when he was Christina's age, "I was watching Neil Armstrong walking on the moon, and I told myself that if I worked really hard, maybe one day I would have the opportunity to fly in space, and I did work hard and it did work out. It was those early Apollo astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Gene Cernan that inspired me."

Endeavour Cmdr. Mark Kelly Answers Questions From Orbit

Q: How long does it take to get to space?

Kelly: We go from zero to 17,500 mph in 8 minutes and 20 seconds. When those main engines start, it's like being on a runaway train that is going 1000 mph.

Q: How fast do you go?

Kelly: Right now, we are going 17,500 mph. We see a sunrise and sunset every 45 minutes. If you go outside in spacewalk, it is in the vacuum of space. Even though you are going fast it is not like sticking your arm out the window of a car. You don't feel the air rushing by.

At the end of the session, Kelly showed the students a scrapbook he brought into space for them that he would give to Mesa Verde Elementary School after Endeavour lands in June.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May212011

Pope Benedict Makes Historic Call to Astronauts

Franco Origlia/Getty Images(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- The crew onboard the International Space Station received a special call on Saturday morning, a call from Pope Benedict XVI.

In the first ever call by a pope to astronauts orbiting in space, Pope Benedict heaped praises on the Endeavour crew and expressed his admiration for their work.

“This conversation gives me the chance to express my own admiration and appreciation to you and to all those who collaborate in making a mission possible and my heartfelt encouragement to bring it to a safe and successful conclusion,” the pope said.

Pope Benedict called the space station around 7:11 a.m. EST and during his conversation he also made special mention of Commander Mark Kelly’s wife Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who is still recovering after being shot in the head during a shooting rampage in Tucson in January.

“I know that Mark Kelly's wife was a victim of a serious attack and I hope her health continues to improve,” Pope Benedict said.

Kelly then expressed his gratitude to the Roman Catholic leader saying, “Thank you for the kinds words your holiness and thank you for mentioning my wife Gabby.”

Endeavour’s journey to space marks the second-to-last flight for NASA's space shuttle program. The shuttle's crew are on a 16-day mission, where they will install a $2 billion alpha magnetic spectrometer on the ISS, that could prove or disprove the Big Bang Theory of how the universe was formed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May202011

Emails Released Depict Loughner's Behavior Before Tucson Shooting

Pima County Sheriff's Department(PHOENIX) -- New emails released Thursday by Pima Community College, where accused Tucson, Arizona shooter Jared Lee Loughner attended, shed light on his behavior before he allegedly killed six people and injured 13 others, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, in January.

The emails paint Loughner as a struggling student with emotional problems.

In one, a student complained to a writing teacher that Loughner put a knife on his desk.  In another, a teacher said she wanted to remove Loughner from class after repeated problems.  The dean demanded the matter get quick attention and was told campus police were looking into Loughner's background.

The emails showed that college officials contacted the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to find out if Loughner had any guns in his possession but no firearms turned up in their check.

On Sept. 29, 2010, Loughner was suspended from the school and told he couldn't return unless he underwent a mental evaluation.

The college was court-ordered to release 255 pages of emails after a local newspaper, The Arizona Republic, filed a lawsuit, requesting that the emails be made public.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
May202011

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Removes Helmet After Skull Surgery

Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords on Thursday was finally able to remove the helmet she had been forced to wear ever since she underwent surgery to remove part of her skull as a result of the bullet wound to the brain she suffered in January.

The Arizona Democrat was holding a meet-and-greet event in Tucson when police said Jared Lee Loughner shot her at point-blank range.  Six people were killed and 12 others besides Giffords were wounded in the assault.

On Wednesday, doctors used a plastic implant to close the hole in Giffords's skull that was created to relieve pressure as her brain swelled because of her wound.  Doctors reported Thursday that everything went well.

Neurosurgeon Dong Kim, who performed the operation, said, "I started calling her gorgeous Gabby today.  She hasn't looked in the mirror yet, but as soon as she does, she'll be very pleased."

Giffords' chief of staff, Pia Carusone, acknowledged that her boss hated wearing helmets, even the one decorated with the Arizona flag.

True to her fighting spirit, Giffords was recovered enough Thursday to resume rehabilitation at TIRR Memorial in Houston.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May192011

Mark Kelly Says Wife Gabrielle Giffords Is Doing 'Really Well'

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- Space shuttle commander Mark Kelly says his wife, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, is doing "really well" after undergoing cranioplasty surgery in Houston Wednesday morning.

Speaking at a news conference Thursday morning from Endeavour, which docked with the International Space Station on Wednesday, Kelly said he was able to speak to Giffords' mother and his twin brother, astronaut Scott Kelly, by telephone during the operation.

"She's doing really well," Mark Kelly said.  "Everything went as planned.  Her neurosurgeons are very happy.  She's recuperating and she's actually getting back to therapy today.  So it went really, really well."

Giffords was shot in the head earlier this year in Tucson, Arizona.  A portion of her skull from the left side of her head was removed to ease the stress and pressure on her brain due to swelling.

On Wednesday, doctors inserted a plastic replacement, whose shape was generated by a computer to match the shape of the lost bone.

Earlier in the week, Giffords was on hand at the Kennedy Space Center to watch her husband blast off into space for Endeavour's final flight.

ABC News has been told that Kelly, as a gesture of love, took both of their wedding rings on the flight with him.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May182011

Gabrielle Giffords Completes Skull Surgery in Houston

Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords(HOUSTON) -- Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had cranioplasty surgery at Memorial Hospital in Houston Wednesday morning – an important step in her fight to recover from an attempted assassination in Tucson earlier this year. A source confirmed to ABC News later in the day that the surgery is complete and that Giffords is doing well.

While she was in the operating room, the other half of this high-powered couple, astronaut Mark Kelly, spent the early hours of the morning guiding the space shuttle Endeavour through the complicated maneuvers to dock with the International Space Station.

After the Tucson shooting, in which six people died and 13, including Giffords, were injured, a portion of her skull was removed to ease the stress and pressure on her brain.

In Wednesday's procedure, a team led by Dr. Dong Kim inserted a plastic replacement, its shape generated by computer to match the shape of the lost bone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May182011

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords to Undergo Cranioplasty Surgery in Houston

Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- ABC News has learned Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will undergo cranioplasty surgery at Memorial Hospital in Houston Wednesday morning -- an important step in her fight to recover from an attempted assassination earlier this year.

While she is in the operating room, her husband, Commander Mark Kelly, will be guiding the space shuttle Endeavour through the complicated maneuvers to dock with the International Space Station.

Despite Kelly's absence, Giffords' mother Gloria is with her. Kelly's twin brother, Scott, also an astronaut, is with Giffords as well.

Giffords was well enough to watch her husband's delayed mission finally lift off earlier this week, the 25th and final flight of shuttle Endeavour.  Pia Carusone, Giffords' Chief of Staff, reported she was delighted with the launch, saying "good stuff, good stuff."

Carusone says Kelly is able to communicate with his wife while he is in orbit.

Since Giffords' emergency surgery after she was shot, a portion of her skull was removed and presumably kept viable by doctors. 

The primary reason that doctors removed part of her skull on the left side of her head in the first place,  a procedure known as a craniotomy, was to ease the stress and pressure on her brain due to swelling.

The bone is usually replaced and secured in place using small metal plates, sutures, or wires.

Giffords has so far gone a bit longer than four months with part of her skull missing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May152011

Astronaut: Space Shuttle Launch 'Like Going into Combat' 

NASA/Kim Shiflett(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- The number is bleak and every astronaut who flies into space knows it: There is a one in 75 chance they will not return home.
 
Mike Fincke, who will set a U.S. record for time in space, 380 days, during STS 134 Endeavour's mission scheduled launch Monday, said the risk became more real to him when he became a father.

"I know it is risky, but I have chosen to do this because of what we learn," he said. "Think of everything you have that makes life easier -- smart phones, wifi, that is the result of microelectronics developed for the space program. Whole worlds are opened up to my children because of the Internet."

The memory of the Columbia accident in 2003 is still vivid for them -- the seven astronauts were colleagues, and friends. If it were not for the Columbia accident the space shuttle program would probably not be ending this year.

Greg Johnson, Endeavour's pilot, is cool, competent with a devilish sense of humor and a calm acceptance of the danger ahead.

"I feel the risk, and I compare launching on the space shuttle a little like going into combat," he said. "Any sane astronaut will feel the fear, or concern just prior to liftoff. If they don't admit they are lying to you."

Johnson is a veteran fighter pilot; he flew 38 combat missions for the Air Force during Operation Desert Storm. He remembers sitting in Endeavour's cockpit before his first flight in 2008 waiting for the engines to ignite.

"I had a sense of wow, I don't have control over this, and I was hoping all the engineers and everybody that was on the team making this mission happen did their homework when they were in college," he said.

The explorers flying on Endeavour are led by Commander Mark Kelly, flying on his fourth mission. Kelly was thrust into the spotlight after the assassination attempt on his wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, earlier this year.

He considered withdrawing from the mission to stay by his wife's side, but ultimately chose to command Endeavour's last flight, which is expected to be a complicated 16-day mission to deliver and install the $2 billion Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, a science platform to prove or disprove the Big Bang Theory of the formation of our universe.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May122011

DNC Head on Giffords: 'She's Going to Come Back to Congress'

Bill Clark/Roll Call via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz is fairly confident her good friend, Arizona Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords, will be returning to work.

In an interview with ABC News, the new head of the Democratic National Committee said, “I do think she’s going to come back to Congress.  I mean the progress that she’s making I think that from what I understand she’s on track for that to happen.  Not sure when, but she’s making tremendous progress.”

Wasserman Schultz had dinner with Giffords in Houston on Friday, she said, after Giffords returned from Florida where she had hoped to see her husband off on the Endeavour launch.

Giffords' recovery from the January gunshot wound to the head is going well and she is beginning to walk instead of using a wheel chair, Wasserman Schultz said.

“[She] is responding in more complex sentences.  So she’s making progress.  She’s got a long way to go but we’re all so proud of her, she’s doing great,” Wasserman Schultz said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Saturday
Apr302011

NASA Technicians Working on Endeavour

PRNewsFoto/NASA(CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla.) -- Officials at NASA say the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour is now expected to take place no earlier than Monday afternoon.

The launch, which was originally scheduled for Friday, was postponed after the space agency said the heater on one of Endeavour's three Auxiliary Power Units (APU) malfunctioned as the astronauts were getting ready to board for liftoff.

On Saturday NASA said technicians at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A have drained the external fuel tank of more than 500,000 gallons of liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen, and were expected to begin looking at a fuel line heater associated with the APU system around midday Saturday.

NASA says Endeavour’s launch is now planned for no earlier than 2:33 p.m. Monday.

Endeavour’s mission crew consists of Commander Mark Kelly, Pilot Gregory H. Johnson and Mission Specialists Michael Fincke, Greg Chamitoff, Andrew Feustel and European Space Agency astronaut Roberto Vittori.

The shuttle's launch has drawn widespread attention because it's the second-to-last for the U.S. space shuttle program, and it's commanded by the husband of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head during a shooting rampage in Tucson in January. Six people were killed and 13, including Giffords, were injured in the shooting.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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