WASHINGTON — NASA has named a backup commander, if necessary, to take replace the astronaut husband of wounded US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
The space agency emphasized Thursday that Capt. Mark Kelly, Giffords' husband of more than three years, remained the commander for the final scheduled flight of the space shuttle program. The shuttle Endeavour is scheduled to launch April 19 on a trip to the International Space Station.
Kelly said in a written statement released by NASA that he recommended to the space agency that it should "take steps now to prepare to complete the mission in my absence if necessary." Giffords, Kelly's wife, was gravely wounded by a gunman last Saturday.