Tuesday, June 03, 2008

My Husband, Somewhere in Orbit

ISO My Husband, Somewhere in Orbit

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, staying in touch with her high-flying hubby, astronaut Mark Kelly.
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By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts
Tuesday, June 3, 2008; Page C03

After a busy weekend, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords flew into BWI yesterday, took the train to Union Station, then ran into a bar searching for a TV.

"I pleaded with the bartender, who had it tuned to some sports station, with a straight face: 'My husband is the commander of space shuttle Discovery. They're in the process of rendezvousing with the international pace station. May I please turn the channel?' " Giffords told us. "He looked a little confused and handed me the remote."

The Arizona Democrat, who turns 38 on Sunday, became a NASA spouse when she married 44-year-old astronaut Mark Kelly in November. The two have maintained a long-distance marriage ever since: she in Tucson and D.C.; he in Houston -- and for the next 11 days, 218 miles out in space. She'll watch him on the news every day, and wear her Christmas gift: a meteorite he had made into a pendant for her.

Giffords was in Florida for Saturday's launch and will return on June 14 for the landing. In between, they'll make do with short e-mails ("Obviously, he's a little busy") and calls to her cellphone. (Extra roaming charges?) Family members get to pick the music that wakes the crew; Giffords selected "A Life on the Ocean Wave," the theme of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (Kelly's alma mater) and "Crystal Frontier" by the Tucson-based band Calexico.

This is Kelly's third trip into space. He's shepherding a $1 billion space lab, a pump to repair a broken toilet, a Buzz Lightyear doll and two items from his bride: a flag from the National Day of the Cowboy Organization ("I just thought we needed cowboy representation up there") and her wedding band, inscribed: You're the closest to heaven that I've ever been."And he would know," she said.

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