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Recovering Giffords Off to See Husband’s Space Shuttle Launch

Gabrielle Giffords, the US Congresswoman critically wounded when would-be assassin Jared Loughner shot her in the head as she met with constituents outside a Tucson, Arizona supermarket on January 8, continues to recover from her horrific ordeal. Today, she flew from Houston, where she’s been hospitalized, to Florida, where she will attend Friday’s launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, which is commanded by her husband, Mark Kelly.

According to CNN, Giffords is “looking forward to some time away” from TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston. Her doctors approved her request to attend the launch last week. They say she’s making a “strong” recovery and is now able to speak in short sentences. She also walks with a cart for therapy and has full use of the left side of her body.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL), a personal friend, told CNN that Giffords “continues to make remarkable progress, has a little bit more mobility now… is a lot more responsive, interactive and initiating speech.”

Dr. Peter Rhee, trauma chief at University Medical Center (where Giffords was first treated) told CNN that “she’s not going to be 100%.” “She has a scar on her head, she’s going to have multiple scars on her… there are a lot of things that are permanently damaged that won’t ever come back. Is she going to be the same as she was before? I think she’s going to have permanent changes in thoughts and memories and feelings and emotions, so we’ll have to see how that pans out in the future. But I think she’s doing very well.”

Husband Mark Kelly will command the shuttle crew of four American astronauts and one from the European Space Agency. The launch, which will be the last for Endeavour, is scheduled for 3:47 pm (Eastern time) on Friday.

Also attending, according to CNN, will be President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters Sasha and Malia.

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