Arizona Congresswoman, Gabrielle Giffords, was shot in the head on January 8, 2011 and has been in recovery ever since. She has recovered at an unprecedented rate and is expected to be at the final launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavor in Cape Canaveral, Florida which her husband, Mark Kelly, is commanding, on Friday. Giffords is said to be slowly regaining her speech, and she can even walk short distances. Despite sustaining an injury that is typically fatal in most cases, doctors are amazed at how well she is doing in this short time span.
Dr. Dong Kim explained that there is no medical reason that would stop her from traveling safely to Florida to be at the final launch with her husband. The flight will last fourteen days and takes off at 3:47 PM on Friday, April 29, 2011. It will be NASA’s 134th mission and the Endeavor’s 25th and final flight. After the Endeavor safely returns to Earth, it will be put on display at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. Giffords is said to be perfectly fine with her husband taking off on this flight. Mark Kelly said he wouldn’t be going without her consent; however, her speedy recovery reassures him that she will be fine.
Update: The scheduled April 29 flight of Space Shuttle Endeavour, which was “scuttled after a heater in one of the ship’s hydraulic power generators failed”, was duly rescheduled. On May 16, 2011, at 8:56AM EDT, Endeavour took off for NASA’s penultimate shuttle flight.
Watch the maiden voyage of Space Shuttle Endeavour, STS-49, which took place on May 7, 1992.
National Geographic has posted a small sample of photos featuring the shuttle, each one breathtaking in their own right.