Out of view Giffords sees husband’s shuttle launch

The Arizona congresswoman continues her remarkable recovery

Topics: Gabrielle Giffords, NASA,

Out of view Giffords sees husband's shuttle launchThe U.S. and orbiter flags wave in the breeze as the space shuttle Endeavour sits on Launch Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Sunday, May 15, 2011. Endeavour, and her crew of six astronauts, is scheduled to lift off Monday morning on a 16-day mission to the international space station. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)(Credit: AP)

It was a moment that a few short months ago seemed so improbable: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords watched her husband power into space on the shuttle Endeavour. In person.

Still recovering from a devastating wound to the head, the Arizona congresswoman was at Kennedy Space Center on Monday to witness Mark Kelly and his five crewmates blast off and head to the International Space Station. She watched in private — as do all crew families.

What had already been a historic event — the second-to-last space shuttle flight and the last for Endeavour itself — had become the Gabrielle Giffords-Mark Kelly saga after the Jan. 8 shooting.

Since the assassination attempt in her Tucson, Ariz., hometown, Giffords has been shielded from public view: during her two weeks in intensive care, her transfer to Houston, and the weeks since at a rehab hospital. Her doctors last spoke publicly about her progress in early March, and the only recent details have come from select interviews granted by her husband, staff, and those caring for her.

The night before launch, Kelly bid Giffords goodbye at the exclusive beachfront house the crew uses before launch.

Her doctors say she has made “leaps and bounds” in what will be a long recovery. The bullet pierced the left side of Giffords’ brain, thus affecting speech and movement on her right side. The Arizona Republic reported last month that she was speaking mostly in single words or declarative phrases, could stand and walk on her own, pushing a grocery cart through the rehab center’s hall as therapy.

“Her personality’s 100 percent there,’ Kelly told CBS News. “You know it’s difficult for her to walk. The communication skills are difficult at this point.”

No photos of Giffords have been seen. According to the Arizona newspaper, her hair is short and there’s a thin scar across her forehead. She wears a helmet to protect her head; a piece of her skull was removed to allow for swelling. A grainy TV video purportedly showed her slowly going up stairs of a small airplane to fly to Cape Canaveral for her husband’s first launch attempt last month.

The tragic event that catapulted the relatively unknown congresswoman and anonymous astronaut into America’s sweethearts, Gabby and Mark, came a few days after the Democrat started her third term in Congress.

At a routine meet-and-greet with constituents outside a supermarket, a gunman opened fire, killing six people and wounding Giffords and 12 others in the crowd. A 22-year-old suspect faces 49 federal charges and a mental competency hearing.

The odds said she wouldn’t make it, but she did. After brain surgery and two weeks in intensive care, she was taken to Houston where her husband lives and trains. The odds suggested Kelly couldn’t continue with his shuttle mission, but he did. Four weeks after the shooting, he said he would fly.

Might Giffords be well enough to attend his launch — as she had twice before?

“Absolutely. I have every intention that she’ll be there for the launch,” he told reporters in February.

While she was in daily rehab, he resumed training, visiting her before and after work. In a way, their days were similarly filled with intense and repetitive drills. She was told about the shooting — which she doesn’t remember — and the deaths, but not all the details.

By the end of April, doctors said Giffords was doing well enough to fly to Florida — but the shuttle was grounded hours before liftoff.

When NASA was ready to try again, Giffords was there. Again. This time the hard work, the preparations — both for NASA and Giffords — paid off with a thunderous launch.

Monday’s launch also means Kelly will be home in Houston after the 16-day mission just in time for Giffords’ 41st birthday on June 8.

Giffords, who is on the House committee that oversees NASA, had an interest in space issues before she met Kelly on a trip to China in 2003 when she was serving in the Arizona Legislature. They were married in 2007 after a long-distance romance. She attended his launches in 2006 and 2008.

As is custom, Giffords will again pick wake-up music for Kelly at least once while he’s in orbit, maybe more. Previously, she selected “Beautiful Day” from U2.

At his last liftoff, she told The Associated Press that she was happy, excited and worried all at the same time. “It’s a risky job,” she said. Only when the shuttle has returned to Earth “you can sort of exhale and relax and know that your loved one’s safe.”

Right after that launch, she was presented with red roses and a card from her husband.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 14
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Pilot"

    One of our first exposures to uncomfortable “Girls” sex comes early, in the pilot episode, when Hannah and Adam “get feisty” (a phrase Hannah hates) on the couch. The pair is about to go at it doggy-style when Adam nearly inserts his penis in “the wrong hole,” and after Hannah corrects him, she awkwardly explains her lack of desire to have anal sex in too many words. “Hey, let’s play the quiet game,” Adam says, thrusting. And so the romance begins.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Elijah, "It's About Time"

    In an act of “betrayal” that messes up each of their relationships with Hannah, Marnie and Elijah open Season 2 with some more couch sex, which is almost unbearable to watch. Elijah, who is trying to explore the “hetero side” of his bisexuality, can’t maintain his erection, and the entire affair ends in very uncomfortable silence.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Charlie, "Vagina Panic"

    Poor Charlie. While he and Marnie have their fair share of uncomfortable sex over the course of their relationship, one of the saddest moments (aside from Marnie breaking up with him during intercourse) is when Marnie encourages him to penetrate her from behind so she doesn’t have to look at him. “This feels so good,” Charlie says. “We have to go slow.” Poor sucker.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and camp friend Matt, "Hannah's Diary"

    We’d be remiss not to mention Shoshanna’s effort to lose her virginity to an old camp friend, who tells her how “weird” it is that he “loves to eat pussy” moments before she admits she’s never “done it” before. At least it paves the way for the uncomfortable sex we later get to watch her have with Ray?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Hard Being Easy"

    On the heels of trying (unsuccessfully) to determine the status of her early relationship with Adam, Hannah walks by her future boyfriend’s bedroom to find him masturbating alone, in one of the strangest scenes of the first season. As Adam jerks off and refuses to let Hannah participate beyond telling him how much she likes watching, we see some serious (and odd) character development ... which ends with Hannah taking a hundred-dollar bill from Adam’s wallet, for cab fare and pizza (as well as her services).

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Booth Jonathan, "Bad Friend"

    Oh, Booth Jonathan -- the little man who “knows how to do things.” After he turns Marnie on enough to make her masturbate in the bathroom at the gallery where she works, Booth finally seals the deal in a mortifying and nearly painful to watch sex scene that tells us pretty much everything we need to know about how much Marnie is willing to fake it.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Tad and Loreen, "The Return"

    The only sex scene in the series not to feature one of the main characters, Hannah’s parents’ showertime anniversary celebration is easily one of the most cringe-worthy moments of the show’s first season. Even Hannah’s mother, Loreen, observes how embarrassing the situation is, which ends with her husband, Tad, slipping out of the shower and falling naked and unconscious on the bathroom floor.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and the pharmacist, "The Return"

    Tad and Loreen aren’t the only ones to get some during Hannah’s first season trip home to Michigan. The show’s protagonist finds herself in bed with a former high school classmate, who doesn’t exactly enjoy it when Hannah puts one of her fingers near his anus. “I’m tight like a baby, right?” Hannah asks at one point. Time to press pause.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Role-Play"

    While it’s not quite a full-on, all-out sex scene, Hannah and Adam’s attempt at role play in Season 3 is certainly an intimate encounter to behold (or not). Hannah dons a blond wig and gets a little too into her role, giving a melodramatic performance that ends with a passerby punching Adam in the face. So there’s that.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Shoshanna and Ray, "Together"

    As Shoshanna and Ray near the end of their relationship, we can see their sexual chemistry getting worse and worse. It’s no more evident than when Ray is penetrating a clothed and visibly horrified Shoshanna from behind, who ends the encounter by asking if her partner will just “get out of me.”

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Frank, "Video Games"

    Hannah, Jessa’s 19-year-old stepbrother, a graveyard and too much chatting. Need we say more about how uncomfortable this sex is to watch?

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Marnie and Desi, "Iowa"

    Who gets her butt motorboated? Is this a real thing? Aside from the questionable logistics and reality of Marnie and Desi’s analingus scene, there’s also the awkward moment when Marnie confuses her partner’s declaration of love for licking her butthole with love for her. Oh, Marnie.

    13 of "Girls'" most cringeworthy sex scenes

    Hannah and Adam, "Vagina Panic"

    There is too much in this scene to dissect: fantasies of an 11-year-old girl with a Cabbage Patch lunchbox, excessive references to that little girl as a “slut” and Adam ripping off a condom to ejaculate on Hannah’s chest. No wonder it ends with Hannah saying she almost came.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>