Mark Kelly, husband of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is rushing to his wife’s side after Giffords was shot in the head at point blank range today during a rally outside a Safeway supermarket in Arizona. Kelly has flown three shuttle missions and is the Commander of Space Shuttle Mission STS-134, the Endeavour mission scheduled to launch April 1, 2011.
He and his twin brother Scott were both selected to be pilots by NASA in 1996, and joined the astronaut corps later that year. Scott is currently stationed on the International Space Station.
Married a little over four years, Giffords and Kelly met in China while serving as young leaders selected by the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations. At the time, Kelly was married with two children and Giffords was seeing someone else. By the time they met up again the following year, Kelly had divorced and the two began a friendship that included regular long distance phone calls and email exchanges.
Still just a friendship at that point, Giffords even offered Kelly dating advice. Through the years, they kept in touch. In 2005, Kelly began surprising Giffords on her campaign stops and then Giffords attended the launching of Kelly’s shuttle mission on Discovery in 2006. They began dating and the couple finally married in December of 2007.
The NASA astronaut is reported to have taken restaurateur Tilman Fertitta’s private jet with his daughters and mother to the Tucson hospital where Giffords is undergoing surgery. Jared Lee Loughner, 22, has been taken in to custody for the shooting that also killed six people, including federal judge John Roll, Congressional staffer Gabe Zimmerman, and a nine-year-old girl.