Congresswoman and U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head at point blank range outside a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona earlier this year, underwent brain surgery while her Irish-American husband and astronaut Mark Kelly makes his final orbit in space.
Giffords underwent cranioplasty surgery to replace a piece of her skull which had being removed on purpose to allow the injured brain to swell. The timing of the surgery clashed with her NASA astronaut husband Kelly's final flight STS-134 mission, but suited her level of recovery at the time, as well as the doctors availability.
"She was ready for the surgery," Kelly tells MSNBC. "The timing worked out where her doctor ideally wanted to do it soon after I launched, and I really trust him, and her mom was there and her dad and other family members. It was good timing so I didn’t want to hold it up by this spaceflight, so we decided to go ahead with it and in hindsight it was absolutely the right decision."
Gabrielle Giffords’ love story with husband Mark
NASA's Endeavour space shuttle took off on May 16th from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida for it's final orbit after 19 years pushing boundaries, before being retired to a Los Angeles museum. It was to everyones surprise that the injured Congresswoman attended the launch in Florida which meant she was recovering well enough to take the return flight.
Kelly and his five crewmates undocked from the International Space Station on May 29th. They returned safely to the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday June 1st at 2.35 a.m EDT.
They delivered a $2 billion particle physics experiment and a set of back up parts for the orbiting outpost. Four spacewalks were performed, reports msnbc.
"When Jan. 8 happened, when that day came, it didn't look likely that I would be on this flight," Kelly said from space late Monday during a series of televised interviews. "But her recovery went well enough, and things lined up with her being able to go to rehab in Houston, that I was able to rejoin my crew and complete this mission."
"I don't have any regrets," Kelly tells msnbc. "There were periods of time over the last 16 days where you miss your wife and your kids, and I think that’s true for all of us, but in hindsight, it was absolutely the right decision." What's the first thing he'll tell her after landing? That’s simple, Kelly said. "Probably, 'I'm back.'"
During the space flight Kelly was able to email and call his wife. He was also able to share views of the Earth from space during video chats from a seven-window observation dome called the Cupola that overlooks the Earth.
He tells msnbc, "To have her and Claudia and Claire, my two daughters, there, it was really a special moment," Kelly said. "After what happened to her on Jan. 8, the fact that she was able to recover to the point to walk on the airplane, walk off, make the trip to Florida twice. Being away from her, to be honest, it's difficult. Fortunately there's a phone on the space station, there's email, we can communicate, and I'm looking forward to getting back there tomorrow."