Giffords’ astronaut hubby decision due Friday
Mark Kelly will take part in a press conference Friday afternoon at Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA said late Thursday. The astronaut who has been substituting for Kelly during training, however, is not among the three participants, suggesting that Kelly has decided to fly in April.
The fact that Sturckow is not listed for the press conference is telling, indicating that Kelly will launch as scheduled, said Howard McCurdy, a public policy professor and space expert at American University in Washington, D.C.
And because it will be one of the last two launches and because of the drama behind the shooting of his wife, that shuttle launch will “get the same kind of attention that the (1998) John Glenn mission” received, McCurdy said. NASA is retiring the shuttle fleet this year; three missions remain.
“We all want her to go back to Congress; we’d like them both to continue their careers and we’d like them to be whole and normal as if this thing had never happened,” said McCurdy, author of the book “Space and the American Imagination.”
Both Kellys are Navy captains and joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 1996. In an interview from the space station Wednesday, Scott Kelly said their Navy background as high-performance pilots enables them to put their personal lives aside, when necessary, and focus on the job at hand.
“My brother certainly is very good at that,” he told The Associated Press. “If he does choose, and NASA management chooses, for him to fly this mission … I am absolutely 100 percent confident that he will have no problem fulfilling his responsibilities the same way as if this incident would have never occurred.”
AP Science Writer Seth Borenstein contributed to this report from Washington.