Mark Kelly, Husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, Heading to Space

After weeks of consideration, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords' astronaut husband has decided he'll head to space in April on the space shuttle Endeavor's final mission.

Mark Kelly took a leave from training after Giffords was shot "through the brain" during the Tucson shooting rampage on January 8. Giffords was among 19 people shot in the tragedy, six of whom, including Federal Judge John Roll, were killed in the attack.

Kelly, who's spent the majority of his time since the shooting at Giffords' bedside, has flown three missions aboard the space shuttle.

As Kelly was debating whether to withdraw himself as the mission's commander, NASA named Rick Sturckow as a backup commander, who has since joined the training crew.

Giffords, meanwhile, continues to make a miraculous recovery after the shooting.  

In remarks at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington on Thursday, Kelly said Giffords "gets a little bit better" every day, noting that doctors tell him her progress is "a great sign."

"The last month has been the hardest of my life and the hardest time of my family's life," Kelly said. "We're not the only ones... The shooting has cost other families dearly. Gabby's community in Tucson, my community in Tucson, the people of Tucson are suffering deeply -- but suffering together," Kelly continued.

A formal announcement of Kelly's return to space is expected this afternoon, according to the Associated Press.
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James King
Contact: James King