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  STS-134: Mark Kelly will command Endeavour

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Author Topic:   STS-134: Mark Kelly will command Endeavour
Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 02-04-2011 10:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA release
NASA Astronaut Mark Kelly Resumes Training For STS-134 Mission

NASA astronaut Mark Kelly will resume training as commander of the STS-134 space shuttle mission on Monday, Feb. 7. With the exception of some proficiency training, Kelly has been on personal leave since Jan. 8 to care for his wife, congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was critically wounded in a Tucson, Ariz. shooting.

"I am looking forward to rejoining my STS-134 crew members and finishing our training for the mission," Kelly said. "We have been preparing for more than 18 months, and we will be ready to deliver the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) to the International Space Station and complete the other objectives of the flight. I appreciate the confidence that my NASA management has in me and the rest of my space shuttle crew."

"We are glad to have Mark back," said Peggy Whitson, chief of the Astronaut Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. "He is a veteran shuttle commander and knows well the demands of the job. We are confident in his ability to successfully lead this mission, and I know I speak for all of NASA in saying 'welcome back'.

A news briefing will be held at 2 p.m. CST today at Johnson to discuss Kelly's return. The briefing will be broadcast on NASA Television.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-04-2011 03:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
"The right thing for me to do was to return and fly STS-134" — Kelly

Mark Kelly said today that his decision to resume training was made with the unanimous support of his and his wife's families, including his brother Scott, who is currently aboard the International Space Station.

"Considering a bunch of... factors, including what Gabrielle would want me to do and what her parents and her family and my family would like, I ultimately made the decision that I would like to return and command STS-134," he said.

His decision was met with agreement from his NASA management, including chief astronaut Peggy Whitson and Brent Jett, Director of Flight Operations.

"Mark had to make the first part of this decision," said Whitson. "We weren't going to ask him to command 134 unless he felt comfortable and ready to do that."

"In addition to feeling comfortable, he has an incredible support group, which made us more comfortable with the fact that he had folks to help him through this process and that it would make it a doable thing for him to perform the mission," she said.

Although he won't formally rejoin his STS-134 crewmates for training until next week, Kelly reported to the Johnson Space Center on Monday to demonstrate that he could work without being distracted by his wife's rehabilitation.

"We asked him to train this week with a schedule that would approximate the schedule he would have while he was training for the mission and put his plan into effect and see how it worked out," said Jett. "It also gave us an opportunity to observe Mark."

"Obviously, as his management it was important for us to know that he would be able to focus while he was in training and not be distracted by Gabrielle's situation in the hospital during her rehab," he said.

Kelly took part in a four-hour ascent sim in the motion-base simulator, flew T-38 jets twice, used single system trainers and traveled to Washington, DC for the National Prayer Breakfast as a demonstration that he could be away from Gabrielle.

Kelly declined sharing the details of his wife's prognosis but said that he had every intention for Gabrielle to be at his launch on April 19.

"I've already talked to her doctors about it. There really shouldn't be any reason why she can't go to the launch," Kelly said.

During the flight, he will be able to stay in touch and be apprised of her status via e-mail and using an IP phone. He will also have use of video conferencing facilities at least once during the 14-day mission.

At the press conference, Kelly wore a blue wristband that was sent to him by his wife's congressional staff. On it, he said, was the peace symbol, the heart symbol, and his wife's first name, or "Peace, Love, Gabby."

"Spaceflight is a risky business," Kelly said. "Apparently so is being a member of Congress. From my perspective I've always evaluated the risk with what the benefit is. I really value what NASA does. If something happened to me, how that would affect her -- that was part of what I considered, and ultimately what I decided was the right thing for me to do was to return and fly STS-134."

brianjbradley
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posted 02-04-2011 03:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for brianjbradley   Click Here to Email brianjbradley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What a remarkable story for Kelly and Giffords. They have to be the poster-people for embracing ambiguity and overcoming adversity.

I have to admit - I wonder what Kelly's now-former backup Rick Sturckow thinks?

NavySpaceFan
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posted 02-04-2011 03:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for NavySpaceFan   Click Here to Email NavySpaceFan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Col. Sturckow is a U.S. Marine, he probably said "aye, aye!" and carried on. Besides, he had to know that actually going on 134 would be a very low probability when he took the assignment.

dabolton
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From: Round Lake, IL, US
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posted 02-04-2011 04:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for dabolton   Click Here to Email dabolton     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In my mind, Gabby was certainly a star on the rise in Washington. Young, vibrant, intelligent. And Mark Kelly certainly is a stellar all-American role model.

If she is able to recover enough and resume her career at some point, they would make an outstanding couple to represent the nation someday in the White House. Its not difficult to see the potential nation-healing aspect of this.

Skylon
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posted 02-04-2011 06:29 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by brianjbradley:
I have to admit - I wonder what Kelly's now-former backup Rick Sturckow thinks?
Probably relieved his colleague's wife is okay enough that he can be back on the flight line.

Astronauts may want flights, but these are probably the worst circumstances to be given a flight. In addition, he probably accepted STS-128 would almost certainly be his last flight.

And as pointed, yeah, he's a marine.

SpaceAngel
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posted 02-05-2011 09:25 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SpaceAngel   Click Here to Email SpaceAngel     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It's good to here that Kelly will resume as his roll as Commander for STS-134. Though it will be a shame that he won't meet his brother in space...

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-08-2011 04:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA Television release
Mark Kelly Trains for STS-134

Commander Mark Kelly resumed his training for STS-134 at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston on Feb. 7.

Rick Mulheirn
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posted 03-24-2011 05:22 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I have read reports this morning that Mark Kelly has asked NASA if he could be excused from media Q&A press conferences leading up to his forthcoming flight citing his reluctance to answer questions regarding his wife's condition.

The report went on to speculate what his response might be to crew briefings... were such questions to be asked.

Hats off to the guy for even participating in the mission. I just hope to goodness he is afforded the respect he and his family deserve.

Editor's note: Threads merged.

issman1
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posted 03-24-2011 05:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Mr. Kelly should expect nothing less than inquisitiveness from the non-specialist news media.

To be fair to them, he's not a space tourist paying his own way. STS-134 is taxpayer-funded, so he's not in a position to refuse to answer every journalist.

And I'm sure NASA knows the human interest angle is now central to the mission.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-24-2011 05:27 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Rick Mulheirn:
Mark Kelly has asked NASA if he could be excused from media Q&A press conferences
To clarify, Kelly asked NASA public affairs to cancel his participation in one-on-one media interviews scheduled for today, but will still take part in today's STS-134 crew news conference.

Rick Mulheirn
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posted 03-24-2011 05:55 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
STS-134 is taxpayer-funded, so he's not in a position to refuse to answer every journalist.
For questions pertaining to the mission you are quite right. His private life however is nobody's business but his own; last I heard Gabrielle Giffords was not on the STS-134 crew.

issman1
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posted 03-24-2011 06:05 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
You missed the whole point. If Mr. Kelly was flying on his own merit, like some of the space tourists, he could recuse himself from press conferences altogether.

But as mission commander and government employee he's obligated to answer whatever is thrown at him. Even a polite no comment would suffice.

Remember, the Kelly brothers have almost celebrity status among modern-day astronauts.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-24-2011 06:16 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
But as mission commander and government employee he's obligated to answer whatever is thrown at him.
NASA Policy on the Release of Information to News and Information Media:
NASA employees are not required to speak to the media.

Rick Mulheirn
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posted 03-24-2011 06:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
You missed the whole point.
Apologies if I have missed your point. I have to confess my viewpoint is somewhat clouded by the fact my wife was seriously ill some years ago and empathy with Mark Kelly is perhaps clouding my judgment.

The fact he is participating in STS-134 at all is, in my opinion, quite remarkable. I was thinking back to my own experiences and came to the conclusion that were I in his shoes I would have dealt with the initial media interest, but after making known my feelings about continued questioning on the subject, would have felt obligated to punch the next person who mentioned it.

Maybe that is just one reason (among many) why I am not a shuttle astronaut.

issman1
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posted 03-24-2011 06:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Again, I'm simply trying to see things from the news media side. Reporters who regularly cover NASA know the policy.

It's the non-specialist hack writers whose reporting may leave a lot to be desired. Perhaps that's what Mr. Kelly is wary of plus their motives (and rightly so). However, if Rep. Giffords does attend the launch there will undoubtedly be a circus.

Rick Mulheirn
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posted 03-24-2011 06:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Rick Mulheirn   Click Here to Email Rick Mulheirn     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
...in my own clumsy way I've just stumbled across your point!

AJ
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posted 03-24-2011 11:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for AJ   Click Here to Email AJ     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
But as mission commander and government employee he's obligated to answer whatever is thrown at him. Even a polite no comment would suffice.

I understand your point, but just because someone is a government employee does not mean he or she is an indentured servant. His "obligation" is to do his job to the best of his abilities, not to answer questions that are of no business of anyone else's.

issman1
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posted 03-24-2011 12:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
That is precisely why NASA should have made it clear to news media weeks ago that Mr. Kelly would not respond to questions about his personal life. Period.

It turns out Scott Kelly abruptly cancelled previously scheduled media interviews in Houston on March 22 for the very same reason. I don't blame the brothers for their stance. May be it's the fault of JSC public affairs?

Jay Chladek
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posted 03-24-2011 06:11 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by issman1:
However, if Rep. Giffords does attend the launch there will undoubtedly be a circus.
Not as much as you might think.

The families of astronauts are very well protected at launches and every member of the press who gets approval to attend a launch has to pass security checks. The VIPs who aren't family are also kept away from the press as well. That typically keeps the "hacks" to a minimum.

If anyone were to try and do something not approved (such as trying to go a place where they are not authorized to get some audio or video recordings), you can bet KSC security is going to come down on them like a ton of bricks since they are on US Government property.

brianjbradley
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posted 03-24-2011 10:10 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for brianjbradley   Click Here to Email brianjbradley     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Kelly and/or NASA PAO made the right call to hinder access to Kelly and questions about the status of Gabrielle Giffords. What happened to her was a tragedy, but it would not be fair to Kelly, the -134 crew and flight, or the entire program to overshadow this mission and it's risks, with the recovery status of the mission's commander. Those questions need to be directed to Giffords' office and representatives.

issman1
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posted 03-25-2011 04:35 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Watching the crew press conference, it appears both Mr. Kelly and JSC public affairs slightly relented on their earlier position.

All publicity may not be good, but as the shuttle programme ends it may not necessarily be a bad thing.

All times are CT (US)

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