Skip to comments.Space Flight by Giffords' Husband May be in Doubt
Posted on 01/09/2011 5:33:05 PM PST by anymouse
The shocking gundown of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has left NASA reeling: Her astronaut husband was due to rocket away in just three months as perhaps the last space shuttle commander, and her brother-in-law is currently on the International Space Station.
Shuttle commander Mark Kelly rushed to his wife's hospital bedside Saturday as his identical twin brother, Scott, did his best to keep updated on the Arizona shooting through Mission Control, the Internet and the lone phone aboard the space station.
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They have backups. Won’t stop the shuttle from flying because one guy is out of the rotation.
Yes, I know they have “backup” astronauts to step in if an astronaut gets pulled from a flight. But Mark Kelly is the commander on this flight (he’s responsible for the success of the flight), thus it is a big deal if he can’t fly. Likely the Commander for the next flight (Greg Johnson) is his “understudy,” shadowing his training in preparation for the next flight. But this close to launch, it will be difficult for the replacement Commander, his crew and a lot of supporting personnel to re-tune the flight to a new Commander.
Well, it’s not like they’ve never postponed a launch :-)
NASA managers named a backup commander for the upcoming space shuttle mission on Thursday.
Cmdr. Mark Kelly is scheduled to head the crew aboard space shuttle Endeavour on a 14-day mission to the International Space Station beginning April 19.
Kelly's wife, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was critically wounded during a mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 8. Kelly has been at her bedside much of the time as she recovers.
"I recommended to my management that we take steps now to prepare to complete the mission in my absence, if necessary," Kelly said. "I am very hopeful that I will be in a position to rejoin my STS-134 crewmembers to finish our training."
NASA officials named astronaut Rick Sturckow as a backup commander for the mission.
"Mark is still the commander of STS-134," NASA representative Peggy Whitson said. "He is facing many uncertainties now as he supports Gabrielle, and our goal is to allow him to keep his undistracted attention on his family while allowing preparations for the mission to progress. Designating a backup allows the crew and support team to continue training, and enables Mark to focus on his wife's care."
Sturckow will begin training next week.