Mark Kelly says he’ll leave NASA and the Navy to be by Gabrielle Giffords’ side

June 21, 2011

Three weeks after he landed space shuttle Endeavour at the end of its final voyage, Captain Mark Kelly said he’ll be retiring from NASA and the U.S. Navy to be with his wife, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, as she recovers from gunshot wounds suffered in January.

“As life takes unexpected turns we frequently come to a crossroads,” Kelly wrote in a post on Facebook. “I am at this point today. Gabrielle is working hard every day on her mission of recovery. I want to be by her side. Stepping aside from my work in the Navy and at NASA will allow me to be with her and with my two daughters.”

Giffords returned to her Tucson home last week for the first time since the shooting that severely injured her and killed six others on January 8.

Kelly said his retirement from the Navy and NASA would take effect October 1.

He mentioned possibilities for his own future — perhaps a return to some kind of public service — and expressed confidence in NASA’s.

“I know that as our space program evolves, there are those who will question NASA’s future. I am not among them. There isn’t a group more dedicated to its mission or more capable than the outstanding men and women of NASA. Exploration is a critical component of what makes our country great. We will continue to explore and NASA will continue to lead that effort,” Kelly wrote.

Photo credits: Office of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (Giffords with husband Mark Kelly in this November 2007 photograph from their wedding made available by the office of Rep. Giffords for Reuters on January 12, 2011)

NASA (Space shuttle Endeavour Commander Mark Kelly and mission specialist Ron Garan can be seen in the window of the International Space Station’s cupola, May 27, 2011)



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