(HOUSTON) — The space shuttle Endeavour is on a 2,700-mile cross-country trip. So you have to wonder why it couldn’t make one small detour — especially at the request of former astronaut Mark Kelly, who commanded Endeavour’s last mission before it was retired.
Kelly’s wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was struggling to recover from an attempted assassination in Tucson early last year, and his mission to the International Space Station conflicted with her recovery, so his decision to command it was bittersweet, but he had been training for so long and had faith in the medical team treating his wife.
Endeavour is flying a victory lap across the South, taking off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, dropping from 14,000 feet to 1,500 to circle historic locations in space shuttle history. The orbiter, on top of its 747 carrier plane, circled over Houston and the Johnson Space Center Wednesday. Endeavour will overnight in Houston, then head to El Paso, where it will refuel, then arrive in Los Angeles late in the week.
Mark Kelly’s request for Endeavour to make a detour and fly over Tucson, so Giffords could see it one last time, doesn’t take it that far out of the way, especially when the idea is for it to be seen anyhow.
When asked if NASA would grant Kelly’s request, this was NASA’s official response:
“We are not aware of any official request to divert the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft over Tucson. The route was approved and funded by the California Science Center.”
Gabby Giffords was one of the space agency’s most ardent supporters when she was in Congress.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
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