Astronaut Mark Kelly Retires from NASA

by Nancy Atkinson on June 21, 2011

Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly, in an image on Giffords' campaign website.

Astronaut Mark Kelly, commander of the recent STS-134 shuttle mission and husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, announced today via Facebook that he is retiring from NASA and the US Navy to spend time with his wife. Other sources say the two will write a memoir together.

“This was not an easy decision,” he wrote on his Facebook page. “Public service has been more than a job for me and my family. My parents are retired police officers. And my wife Gabrielle proudly serves in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Kelly said that his decision to retire was not at all about questioning the future of NASA, but he feels a need to spend time with his wife and family.

“As life takes unexpected turns we frequently come to a crossroads,” Kelly wrote. “I am at this point today. Gabrielle is working hard every day on her mission of recovery. I want to be by her side. Stepping aside from my work in the Navy and at NASA will allow me to be with her and with my two daughters. I love them all very much and there is no doubt that we will move forward together. After some time off, I will look at new opportunities and am hopeful that one day I will again serve our country.”

Despite persistent rumors on the internet, Kelly has said he has no intentions of seeking public office and is “absolutely” convinced his wife will return to political life.

Rep. Giffords was shot in the head in January, 2011 in Tucson at an event she was hosting for residents of her Congressional district. Six people died and 13 were injured. She was recently released from a rehabilitation hospital in Houston.

Kelly’s retirement from NASA and the Navy, where he has served for 25 years, is effective Oct. 1. He has flown in space four times. According to ABC news, he and his wife said they have a deal with Scribner’s publishers for a joint memoir.

Sources: Facebook, ABC, Arizona Daily Star


Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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