Obama Going to Next-to-Last Shuttle Launch; Rep. Gabrielle Giffords 'Very Pleased'

By Susan Jones | April 21, 2011 | 7:36 AM EDT

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attend a memorial service for the victims of the mass shooting in Tucson at the University of Arizona campus on Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011, in Tucson. Second from left is Daniel Hernandez, a University of Arizona political science student who helped Rep. Gabrielle Giffords when she was shot and at right is Mark Kelly, Giffords’ husband. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) - Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has invited President Barack Obama to attend "numerous" space shuttle launches in the past, her staff told The Houston Chronicle, and he's finally going to do it.

The Chronicle reports that President Obama and his family will attend the final launch of the space shuttle Endeavour, scheduled for April 29 in Florida. (Although this is Endeavor’s final launch, it is not the final launch of the shuttle program. Atlantis is due to make the final shuttle journey in June.)

Rep. Giffords, still recovering from a bullet wound to the brain, may attend the launch as well, and her staff said she's "very pleased" that the president will be there. Giffords' husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, is among the Endeavour's crew.

President Obama, now running for re-election, recently upset space fans in Texas, when his administration awarded the retiring space shuttle orbiters to four other states. Texans argued that their state has a stronger claim to one of the orbiters since Mission Control operates out of Houston's Johnson Space Center.

Obama got testy on Monday when a Dallas television reporter asked him if politics influenced the decision. Obama said politics "had nothing to do with it; the White House had nothing to do with it. There was a whole commission, a whole process; that's how the decision was made."

See Houston Chronicle report