Friday, February 4, 2011

Take-Aways From the Mark Kelly/NASA Press Conference

Posted By on Fri, Feb 4, 2011 at 1:51 PM

The director is discussing the progress of Rep. Giffords and how her progress is allowing Mark Kelly to train and fly.

At the time of the shooting, Mark Kelly assumed he would likely still be at Giffords' bedside in the ICU at this point.

The doctors told him to expect that she would have a setback at some point, but that never came.

Giffords has made progress everyday in Houston.

A week ago, the process began for Kelly to prepare to continue with his crew.

Giffords is busy all day long with therapy, from 8 am to 6 pm.

The question was what Giffords, her parents, and Kelly's parents would want him to do.

Peggy Whitson: It would reduce the mission risk to have Mark Kelly fly the shuttle because he is more prepared.

Brent Jett: Discussions were had with Giffords' doctors to see if there was a risk that her status would change in the next eight weeks.

Jett: Mark trained this week, and he was observed to see if he would be distracted and able to complete the work. Mark flew with instructors, did complete checkout. Did entry simulation for four hours. Spent evening away from Giffords for Prayer Breakfast in DC.

Jett: Decision was unanimous to allow Kelly to continue training. Decision was authorized all the way up chain of command over the last week.

Kelly: Launch date moving freed up schedule a bit. He didn't miss much of anything in process.

Whitson: Getting Mark re-integrated with crew will be most important aspect, but she doesn't expect that will be an issue.

Kelly: Will keep up with Giffords via email, will not ask for anything extra from NASA.

Bob Woodruff from ABC asked if Giffords is speaking. Kelly wouldn't answer specifically, but is discussing instead that she is slated to make an excellent recovery by the doctors.

Kelly was asked if he received a specific ok to fly from Giffords. He replied by saying that he knows what her opinion would be. "I know my wife very well, I know what she would want."

When Kelly told Giffords' mother that he wouldn't fly in ICU in Tucson, she responded that he was crazy. Both of her parents have been "very supportive from the beginning."

Kelly: Giffords is in a great environment and is doing very well.

The reporters are not going to let Giffords' response go, but Kelly continues to say that he isn't going to address it.

He says that he and Giffords are having "conversations", but no details about what that means, specifically.

Kelly was concerned about the possibility of something happening to him in space, but thought that the risk wasn't any different than any other flight.

Kelly is intentionally not going into what she can or cannot do any given day, because people will speculate and he will need to give continuous updates.

One of the doctors said this is a "one percentile type of improvement", better than 99% of patients in this situation.

There was no dissent from anyone in his circle of family and friends over whether this was the right thing to do.

Kelly: Very confident he made the right decision, for the crew, his family and Giffords.

Kelly: Naysayers don't understand Giffords' support for his career and for NASA or the support system around her.

Kelly: Will be staying at a friend's house, has a bit longer of a commute to work.

Kelly: Discussing his modified training schedule using a lot of acronyms I don't understand.

From Monday forward, his training schedule will be the same as normal.

Bob Woodruff asked if Kelly will be able to videoconference with Giffords during the flight. Kelly answered that there is a standard family video conference during each flight, Kelly's is scheduled for the end of the mission, expects to see Giffords.

Kelly is discussing the mission itself and an experiment involving anti-matter that is making my head hurt.

Kelly has been making decisions about Giffords' care with her mother at this point. Will likely hand those decisions to her fully while he's away.

Kelly talks about compartmentalizing his emotions during his training. Last week of training has proved to himself that he's able to do so in this situation.

Kelly: Dealing with the steps of the shooting, skipped over some of the steps to anger when it happened, still angry on occasion.

Kelly expects that Giffords will be able to come to the launch.

Kelly will be leaning on the help of his brother, who will be back on earth for a month before Mark's launch.

Someone asked what would happen if Mark changes his mind, but that doesn't seem on the radar. They are very confident that he'll be ready for the launch.

Closing statement from Jett: NASA's goal was to ensure what was best for the mission. Kelly is the best person for the job.

Kelly's first day of training will be taped to be shown on NASA TV (available online and some cable operators, including Cox, I believe).

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