NASA chief says Giffords is feisty, fired up for shuttle launch
The wife of Endeavour's commander makes her first public appearance since being shot in January.
Thu, Apr 28, 2011 at 06:49 PM
PRIMED FOR THE LAUNCH: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in February 2010. The Congresswoman is at Kennedy Space Center to watch her husband launch space shuttle Endeavour into space one last time. (Photo: bill8570
CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida - NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden said on Thursday he was "really happy" that recuperating Representative Gabrielle Giffords was in Florida to watch shuttle Endeavour's launch on Friday.
Giffords, an Arizona lawmaker who was gravely injured in an assassination attempt in January, is married to Endeavour commander Mark Kelly.
"The greatest thing about her story and the reason why I'm really happy that she's here is because it's like the space program: It's a triumph of good over evil," Bolden told Reuters after visiting the lawmaker shortly after she arrived in Florida on Wednesday.
"It's a story of being able to come back from adversity. We suffered real losses with Apollo 1 and a near loss with Apollo 13 and real losses again with Challenger and Columbia, and yet, we're doing what we do today in tribute to those people," Bolden said.
Three Apollo astronauts died in a launch pad fire in 1967 and the Apollo 13 crew nearly died on a mission to the moon in 1970. Two seven-member shuttle crews were killed in the 1986 Challenger and the 2003 Columbia accidents.
"It could have been very, very tragic if we had lost Gabby," Bolden said, referring to the lawmaker by her nickname. "We lost people in her office, but they didn't die in vain because of who she is and what she does."
Giffords was shot through the head outside a Tucson, Arizona, grocery store as she met with constituents on January 8. Six other people were killed, including a 9-year-old girl, a federal judge, and a member of Giffords' staff.
Kelly took a leave of absence to oversee his wife's care, then resumed training with his crew when she was transferred to a Houston hospital to begin an extensive rehabilitation program.
Giffords has not been seen publicly since the attack.
"She's so fired up," Bolden said. "She's a feisty person."
(Reporting by Irene Klotz, Editing by Jane Sutton and Paul Simao)
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