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Posted by on Feb 5, 2011 in At TMV, Health, Media, Society | 0 comments

Questions about Mark Kelly’s Shuttle Flight Decision


As I mentioned yesterday in the thread dedicated to the recovery of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, Astronaut Mark Kelly has decided to command the shuttle Endeavour flight set to launch April 19.

I also mentioned that the astronaut believes that his wife is making extraordinary progress and that support from family and friends “were keys to his decision to command the upcoming flight of the space shuttle Endeavour.”

“She would be very comfortable with the decision I made,” Kelly said at a press conference yesterday.

And what does NASA say?

We are very, very thankful of the progress Gabrielle has made over the past few weeks,” said Brent Jett, chief of Flight Crew Operations Directorate at NASA.

NASA officials said they spent much of this week observing Kelly doing a simulated week of training. They are confident he will be able to complete the training and not be distracted by his wife’s extensive rehab.

Since Captain Kelly is OK with his decision; since both Kelly’s and Giffords’ families seem to be OK with the decision; since the congresswoman’s staff members are “elated” with the decision; since NASA appears to be OK with the decision; and since Kelly—who knows his wife the best (“I know my wife very well, and I know what she would want…And that makes the decision easier.”)—feels that it would be OK with his wife, I thought that would be the end of the story.

Well, not quite.

This morning, the New York Times has a lengthy article on this subject—calling it a “continuing real-life drama that surpasses the most audacious soap opera narrative”—and claims that so many are turning “to the Internet to suggest what was best for this husband and wife.”:

Should he stay by his wife’s side? Or should he lead the mission he had trained for well more than a year to lead? Is it bullheaded of him to go on such a risky business trip? Or is this what she wants him to do, expects him to do? And how does a two-week trip to space compare to a yearlong tour in Afghanistan by soldiers with complicated domestic situations of their own?

Is the Times making too much of this—itself turning it into a soap opera? Is America making too much of this?

What do you think?