Wounded congresswoman in Florida to watch husband's space launch
A US congresswoman who is recovering from a gunshot wound to her head arrived at the Kennedy Space Centre Wednesday to watch her astronaut husband head to space later this week, dpa reported.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was cleared by her doctors earlier this week to travel to Friday's launch of the shuttle Endeavour, which is being commanded by her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly.
Giffords' staff announced via Twitter that she had arrived in Florida accompanied by doctors from her Houston rehabilitation hospital. She joins the hundreds of thousands of spectators from around the world who are expected to flock to the space centre and to line the beaches of central Florida to watch the penultimate shuttle mission.
The Arizona congresswoman was shot in the head while meeting with constituents on January 8, in an attack that took six lives. Giffords has been undergoing rehabilitation at a Houston hospital.
Although Giffords' attendance is drawing significant media attention, she will make no public appearances during the visit to the space centre and will watch the launch out of public view with the families of the other astronauts, her office said.
The congresswoman attended the launch of Kelly's previous shuttle mission in 2008 and has served on the Congressional committee tasked with overseeing space policy.
President Barack Obama and his family will also attend the launch, which will be the final for the Endeavour as NASA prepares to retire the shuttle fleet. The last-ever launch is planned for late June.
Endeavour is scheduled to blast off for its final mission at 3:47 pm (1947 GMT) Friday from Kennedy Space Centre at Cape Canaveral, Florida, carrying six astronauts on a two-week mission to the orbiting International Space Station.
Endeavour is to deliver a particle physics detector to the station to allow scientists to measure cosmic rays in the search for dark matter and antimatter. It will also carry a host of supplies to keep the spacecraft operating once shuttles are no longer available to lift large items into orbit.