NASA names backup shuttle commander in absence of Giffords' husband
Astronaut Mark Kelly is staying at wife Gabrielle Giffords' side in a Tucson, Arizona, hospital.
January 13th, 2011
02:26 PM ET

NASA names backup shuttle commander in absence of Giffords' husband

While space shuttle commander Mark Kelly oversees his wife's recovery after she was shot Saturday, NASA named a backup commander for the final space shuttle mission Thursday.

Astronaut Rick Sturckow will serve as a backup commander for the mission so the crew and support teams can continue training, NASA said.

Kelly's wife is U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded in a shooting Saturday in Tucson, Arizona.

NASA said Kelly remains commander of the 14-day mission, which is scheduled to launch April 19 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
"I recommended to my management that we take steps now to prepare to complete the mission in my absence, if necessary," Kelly said in a statement released by NASA. "I am very hopeful that I will be in a position to rejoin my STS-134 crew members to finish our training."

Sturckow will begin training next week at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston with the rest of the STS-134 crew, which includes Pilot Greg H. Johnson, Michael Fincke, Roberto Vittori, Andrew Feustel and Greg Chamitoff.

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Filed under: Gabrielle Giffords • Shuttle • Space
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. EvilEmperor

    Good..... Goood...

    January 13, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  2. S Callahan

    Mark, please know the faith community if praying for YOU and for Gabby...you now know what many of us have spoken about. Be hopeful....there are many miracles coming your way and you'll see that God is who Hsays He is.
    Hope and Love never die....hang on.

    January 13, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. S Callahan

    correction: the faith community 'IS'

    January 13, 2011 at 2:52 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Homer Simpson

    i seen your mistake but had faith you would correct yourself

    January 13, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Cesar

    This is a very impressive couple; an astronaut and a congress woman. So glad she is recovering. Wish her the best.

    January 13, 2011 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Not PC

      Female congressman.

      January 14, 2011 at 4:46 am | Report abuse |
  6. NMGrrL

    Mark Kelly is a guy who has his priorities in order. While he could still be the last space shuttle commander, he has definitely committed to staying with his spouse at this very critical time and opened the door for his replacement on the crew. Given that her doctors have emphasized that her recovery is definitely strongly affected by those around her - the human factor - he has shown true heroism and shown he has the right stuff in his head and heart to be admired by all.

    January 13, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Liz In dc

    Gabby GOD got your

    January 13, 2011 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Liz In dc

    Gabby God Got Your Back

    January 13, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kathy

    Prayers are with both of them!

    January 14, 2011 at 7:36 am | Report abuse |
  10. Veritas

    @Homer Simpson hehe God has a sense of humor too. @Ceasar hi i agree with you completely @NMGrrl very well put. As we can all see the power of prayer at work in Mrs. Giffords on a daily basis. May God bless them and give them strength and comfort in the face of this horrible tragedy.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  11. Cesar

    @Veritas: Hi.

    January 14, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  12. Letta

    I think its horrible , what has happen to Gabby and Mike . Gabby defenitly did not deserve to get shot . She was only doing her job , and what she loved . I think its a national tragedy , that one of our Politicans got hurt like this .

    January 31, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |