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State of the Union Address Will be On January 25

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 11-Jan-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:17 PM)

President Obama will deliver the annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on January 25, 2011.

Mars Program Update This Thursday in Washington DC

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 11-Jan-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:15 PM)

NASA and the National Air and Space Museum will host a "Mars Program Update" on Thursday, January 13, 2011 at the museum (on the mall in Washington, D.C.). The event is free and open to the public and also will be carried on NASA TV. It is scheduled for 10:30 am - 12:30 pm. Speakers include Steve Squyres, the "father" of the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity.

President Calls for Moment of Silence at 11:00 am EST Today

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 10-Jan-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:16 PM)

The President has called for the nation to observe a moment of silence today at 11:00 am EST in honor of the victims of Saturday's shooting in Tucson, AZ. The tragedy took the lives of six people and left many more wounded, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), who was the target the attack according to law enforcement officials. Rep. Giffords remains in critical condition.

This is the text of President Obama's statement yesterday:

"'Tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. eastern standard time, I call on Americans to observe a moment of silence to honor the innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives. It will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer or reflection, keeping the victims and their families closely at heart.'

"The President will observe the moment of silence with White House staff on the South Lawn. The moment of silence will be pooled press.

"Today, the President has signed a proclamation calling for flags to be flown at half-staff.

"Also, the planned trip by the President to Schenectady, New York, on Tuesday, January 11, to the General Electric energy division is postponed. The trip is expected to be rescheduled."

International Space Station (ISS) Commander Scott Kelly, who is Rep. Gifford's brother-in-law, and the rest of the ISS crew will observe the moment of silence according to a NASA tweet.

NASA Press Conference Tomorrow on STS-133 (Discovery)

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 10-Jan-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:15 PM)

Despite the tragic events in Tuscon this weekend, life and work must go on. NASA will hold a press conference tomorrow (Tuesday) at 1:00 pm CST (2:00 pm EST) with an update on preparations for the launch of STS-133 (Discovery). The STS-133 launch has been postponed since November due to a gas leak and cracks on its External Tank stringers.

Press conference participants will be Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA Associate Administrator for Space Operations; John Shannon, space shuttle program manager; and Mike Sufferdini, ISS program manager. The event will be covered live on NASA TV.

Editor's Note: This is NOT the mission that Mark Kelly, Gabrielle Giffords' husband, is scheduled to fly. He is the commander of STS-134, currently scheduled for April.

ISS Crew and Moment of Silence for Victims of Tucson Tragedy

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 10-Jan-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:14 PM)

NASA has posted on its YouTube channel a video of International Space Station (ISS) Commander Scott Kelly's comments leading into the national moment of silence today to honor the victims of the shooting in Tucson, AZ on Saturday. Kelly's sister-in-law, U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was the primary target of the shooting that killed six and left her in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the head.

Giffords' Neurosurgeon says "No Change," and That's Good News

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 10-Jan-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:14 PM)

At a press brefiing at University Medical Center (UMC) that just concluded, the neurosurgeon treating Rep. Gabrielle Giffords said there is no change in her condition, and that "at this phase in the game no change is good, she is still following those basic commands."

Dr. Michael Lemole reported that there is no progression of brain swelling and each day there is no increase "we are slightly more optimistic." He and Dr. Peter Rhee, chief of trauma at UMC, explained that brain swelling usually peaks in the third day, and today is day two of her post-operative phase. Dr. Lemole cautioned, however, that it can be as long as 10 days.

Dr. Rhee said that there are eight patients still at UMC: 5 in serious condition, 2 in good condition, and one in critical condition (Rep. Giffords). The other two patients who were brought to UMC have been discharged.

Dr. Rhee emphasized that trauma care is more than just healing physical wounds, that emotional care is also very important. The hospital deals with the patient as a whole. He pointed out that some of the patients had lost loved ones in the shooting and the hospital was providing medical care for depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other emotional challenges.

Dr. Lemole declined to go into any specific details about how responsive Rep. Giffords is to commands or what commands she is responding to or other details about her condition. She is on a ventilator and unable to speak; Dr. Rhee said that it normally is 4-5 days before a ventilator would be removed in circumstances like this. The Congresswoman's family is with her.

The next scheduled UMC press briefing on Rep. Giffords is scheduled for 10:00 am local time (noon EST) on Wednesday.

Editor's note: although the statement was made at this press conference on Monday that the next briefing would be on Wednesday, the UMC did hold a briefing on Tuesday, Jan. 11. Most of the briefing was statements by family members of two of the victims. However, the Arizona Daily Star reported that doctors said that Rep. Giffords is able to breathe on her own, but remains connected to a breathing machine to aid in her recovery.

Giffords' Husband, Astronaut Mark Kelly, Issues Statement

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 10-Jan-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:13 PM)

NASA astronaut Mark Kelly, husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, issued a statement through Rep. Giffords' office expressing appreciation for the "outpouring of support."

UPDATE: WIA, USA and Other Statements About Rep. Giffords

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 09-Jan-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:18 PM)

UPDATE: Links to statements from additional groups have been added.

Many companies and organizations in the space "family" are issuing statements of concern and support for Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who is in critical condition after being shot yesterday along with 19 others in Tucson, AZ. Among them are United Space Alliance (USA) and Women in Aerospace (WIA).

USA says on its website:

"Today was a very sad day for the NASA family and the American public with the shooting of our friend, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and families of all those injured and killed today, and are especially with Congresswoman Giffords' husband, Astronaut Mark Kelly; her parents; her children; and, of course, with the Congresswoman herself.

"Congresswoman Giffords is an optimistic, dynamic and upbeat Member of Congress. She is deeply respected for her many contributions to our nation on a wide variety of issues including the space program. We join her constituents, her colleagues in Congress and the entire NASA family in wishing Congresswoman Giffords a full and speedy recovery
."

WIA's website has the following statement: "Women in Aerospace sends our most heartfelt support to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, her staff, family, friends, and constituents, and all who have been impacted by today's very sad events in Arizona. Gabby is a friend of WIA, and our thoughts are with her and everyone fighting to heal from this tragedy."

Other groups issuing statements include:

As we reported earlier, NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden issued a statement yesterday.

Note: An earlier version of this story referenced a USA statement that was on Facebook. The current statement is on USA's website.

UPDATE: Tucson Shooting: Six who Perished

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 09-Jan-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:18 PM)

UPDATE: On Sunday, January 9, law enforcement officials raised to 20 the number of people who were injured in the shooting.

ORIGINAL STORY: News outlets including Tucson's KOLD-TV's Twitter feed are reporting the names of the six people who died today as a result of the attack of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who remains in critical condition at a Tucson medical facility. The current count is that 19 people were shot, rather than 18 as earlier reported. Those who reportedly died are:

  • Christina Greene, 9
  • Gabe Zimmerman, 30, a member of Rep. Giffords' staff
  • John Roll, 63, a federal judge
  • Dorothy Murray, 76
  • Dorwin Stoddard, 76
  • Phyllis Schech, 79

News Reports: Giffords Responsive to Simple Commands

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 09-Jan-2011 (Updated: 05-Dec-2011 06:15 PM)

The Twitter feed for Tucson's KOLD-TV and other news sources report on a press conference about an hour ago at the University Medical Center where doctors said that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was responsive to commands after surgery for a shot to the head suffered yesterday in a shooting in Tucson.

Doctors reportedly said that she was in a medically induced coma, but they wake her up from time to time to determine if she can respond to simple commands. Rep. Giffords is the only one of the wounded who remains in critical condition; the other survivors have been moved out of the intensive care unit according to KOLD. Six people were killed in the attack.

KOLD quotes doctors at the UMC as saying that speculating on her recovery is not "productive" but that the ability to respond to commands implies a high level functioning of the brain. The bullet when through the left side of her brain from back to front, according to KOLD's report.

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