Posts Tagged ‘astronaut’

Mark Kelly is Taking off to Space on Endeavour’s Last Flight

February 14, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords’ husband, Mark Kelly, has decided to fly on the Space Shuttle, Endeavour.  Giffords condition has improved significantly as a result of her fast recovery.  Kelly said, “I know her very well and she would be very comfortable with the decision that I made.”  However, he wouldn’t go into further detail about her condition.  Kelly is expecting his wife to be at his launch in April, which will be his fourth, and the Endeavour’s last flight.

Mark Kelly lives in Houston with his two daughters, Claudia and Claire, from a previous marriage.  Kelly also works close to home at the Johnson Space Center.  Giffords was transferred to Houston from Arizona two weeks after the shooting so she could be close to home and her family.  Kelly stayed at his wife’s bedside the whole time she was in intensive care in Arizona.  Initially, he was expected to step down as commander of Endeavour, with NASA naming Rick Sturckow as backup commander.  Kelly said he wanted his wife’s input before he made his decision.  “I obviously weigh time that I can spend with her, with what I think is in the best interest of NASA and my crew. So that’s a debate I had with myself,” Kelly said.  People who know the family give him support and respect his decision.  Kelly would not leave if his wife’s condition wasn’t improving so fast.  He has begun training for the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s two-week mission.  The final Space Shuttle mission takes off at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on April 29, 2011.

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Taylor P.


Gabrielle Giffords: Her Recovery

January 26, 2011

On January 8, 2011, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head in Casas Adobes, Arizona.  The shooting took place during her first “Congress on Your Corner” gathering of the year.  Gabrielle was quickly rushed to the University Medical Center at Tucson.  On her way there, she was conscious and able to respond to commands.  Upon arriving at the hospital, she was put into surgery where part of her skull was removed to reduce swelling and to avoid further damage to the brain.  The bullet crossed through her head and exited, which was actually a good sign because most of the bullet’s energy was expended in its trajectory.

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is on the road to recovery following the January 8, 2011 shooting.Mark Kelly, Giffords’ husband, flew from Houston to Tucson with their kids to see his wife as soon as he heard the news.  Gabrielle Giffords was placed in a medically induced coma to allow her brain to rest.  When she was awakened periodically, she was able to signal with her hands and move both arms.  She cannot speak, however, since she is on a ventilator.  On January 12th, she opened her eyes for the first time.  Giffords started some simple physical therapy, such as sitting up with the assistance of hospital staff and moving her legs on command.  On January 15th, a tracheotomy was performed on Giffords’ throat to replace the ventilator with a smaller one to help with independent breathing.  Doctors believe she will recover, although her recovery may take from several months to over one year.

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Taylor P.


Space Exploration’s New Frontier: Social Media

March 19, 2010

Space Exploration's New Frontier: Social MediaSocial media, seemingly the domain of earth-bound people such as myself, has had many enthusiasts in the U.S. space program since 2008.  Veronica McGregor of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other panelists addressed the topic of space exploration as a social experience at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival.  In fact, a number of astronauts live Tweet from space such as @Astro_mike, @Astro_soichi, and @Astro_Jeff.  (By all means, follow them on Twitter!)

Panelist Nick Skytland, co-founder of, a collaborative experiment in open, transparent and direct communication about the U.S. space program, has recognized the benefits of bringing discussions about space exploration into the channels of public conversation such as, @NASA, and their blog.  Skytland’s current push across channels encourages participation in President Barack Obama’s open government initiative, which urges citizens to communicate directly with lawmakers about issues and programs that matter to them.

Panelist Amanda Stiles, online community manager and Google Liaison for the Google Lunar X Prize, stressed making today’s generation excited about space exploration.  Dave Masten, private entrepreneur, discussed working on a more sustainable way to make trips to the moon and encouraged this generation to become scientists and engineers so that the U.S. stays on the space exploration forefront.  Read more

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Francis M. Unson