/ Modified feb 4, 2011 1:45 p.m.

Mark Kelly to Fly Mission

Husband of U.S. Rep. Giffords decides to command Endeavor in April

In a press conference this afternoon, astronaut and Navy captain Mark Kelly announced that he will pilot the space shuttle Endeavor on her final mission in April.

His decision comes less than a month after his wife, U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, was shot through the head in the Jan. 8 mass shooting in northwest Tucson.

Since then, "she has made progress every day," Kelly told reporters at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

Giffords' days are busy "between the time she gets up at 8 until 6 p.m., with hours of speech, occupational and physical therapy," he said.

Kelly said his decision was made after considering what his wife would want him to do, and what her parents and his family would like.

It also presents substantially less risk for the mission and Endeavor's crew, explained Astronaut Office Chief Peggy Whitson.

A backup commander has been training since shortly after the shooting, but "it's still better to have the fellow who's been training for a year and a half" in command, Whitson said.

Earlier today, the Pima County Attorney's office issued a statement saying it will pursue its case against Jared Loughner, the gunman in the Jan. 8 shooting, after the federal case against him has been completed.

"These cases will be tried in sequence," wrote Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, "and will ensure that all rights of the victims and their families are vindicated."

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