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Giffords to attend husband's shuttle launch

Ariz. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others were shot when a gunman opened fire at a Tucson, Ariz. grocery store Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011.

March 10, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords plans to attend next month's final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, piloted by her husband, according to ABC News.

Arrangements are being made to host Giffords in the family viewing area at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., NASA officials told ABC News.

A news conference was scheduled for Friday at the Houston hospital where Giffords is undergoing rehab.

Giffords was shot in the head Jan. 8 at a political event outside a supermarket in Tucson, Ariz. Six people died and 12 others were wounded in the attack. Giffords has been slowly recovering from a traumatic brain injury.

Her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, will be the commander of Endeavour when it launches on April 19. The mission marks the last time any of the three remaining U.S. space shuttles will be sent to space.

Kelly remained at Giffords' side for weeks after the shooting, but announced last month that his wife was recovering fast enough for him to pilot the shuttle. He said, at the time, he believed his wife would want him to go to space and he hoped she would be able to see him off.

Last month, Dr. Gerard Francisco, the head of the team of doctors overseeing Giffords' rehabilitation, said a medical decision on whether she could attend the launch would be based on a variety of factors, including how independent her movement is, how much help will be available from friends and family and whether she could handle the commotion of traveling.

At the time, Francisco said getting Giffords to the launch was the goal, but it was too early to say if was realistic.

News of Giffords' attendance comes one day after Jared Loughner pleaded not guilty to 49 new federal charges in the attack, including trying to assassinate Giffords, attempting to kill two of her aides and murdering federal judge John Roll and Giffords' staffer Gabe Zimmerman. Loughner is also charged with killing four other people who were not federal employees, causing injury and death to participants at a federally provided activity and using a gun in a crime of violence.

ABC News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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