Mark Kelly, husband of shot Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords traces his Irish heritage through his father, Richard Kelly a retired police captain.
The astronaut is in Tucson beside his stricken wife, but is scheduled to lead the final shuttle mission to space on April 1st.
Right from an early age, Kelly and his twin brother Scott, were determined to go into space family members told our sister publication Irish America magazine who interviewed the brothers in 2006.
When they were eight they told their Irish grandmother in Orange, New Jersey 'Grandma we're going up in space someday. She would just laugh at them" his father recalls.
Mark's mother is not surprised they both made it and in the same job.
"I really do believe there is a genetic predisposition for certain things," she told the magazine.
To keep the twins on equal footing their parents refused to tell them which one was older until they were 16. Mark is actually older by sixteen minutes.
Out of the 2,400 applications for astronaut the year they applied only 35 were chosen and there were three Kellys among them, the Kelly twins and Jim Kelly who piloted the shuttle in a 2005 mission.
Mark was married to a twin before being divorced and eventually marrying Gabbie Giffords.
Speaking of his roots he told Irish America "I go back to my hometown of Orange usually a couple of times a year. They have a big St.Patricks Parade, I like to go back for that."
Hopefully this year or next he can take his wife, the brave congresswoman along.
His twin brother, Scott Kelly, currently on the International Space Station, broadcast a message to the world when he heard the dreadful news.
"As I look out the window, I see a very beautiful planet that seems very inviting and peaceful. Unfortunately, it is not."
"These days, we are constantly reminded of the unspeakable acts of violence and damage we can inflict upon one another, not just with our actions, but also with our irresponsible words," he said.
"We're better than this. We must do better."
Amen to that.
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