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Obama meets with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at Kennedy Space Center

President Obama meets with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, shuttle commander Mark Kelly, after technical issues prevent Endeavour's launch

April 29, 2011|By Michael A. Memoli, Washington Bureau
(AP Photo, Charles Dharapak )

Reporting from Washington — There was no shuttle launch to see, but President Obama's trip to Cape Canaveral on Friday did include a meeting with Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), his first since he saw her in a Tucson hospital just after a January shooting that nearly took her life.

A White House official said the meeting lasted about 10 minutes and took place before he met with the crew of Endeavour, which was to have launched Friday but was stopped because of technical problems.

The shuttle crew includes commander Mark Kelly, Giffords' husband. He updated the president on her condition before the two went to see her.

"I bet you were hoping to see a rocket launch today," Kelly said to the president, according to the White House official.

"We were hoping to see you," Obama responded.

The first family also toured the Kennedy Space Center's orbital processing facility. They were able to inspect another shuttle, Atlantis, which is scheduled for launch in June. It is scheduled to be the last manned U.S. space mission.

"Think about that: eight minutes and you're up in space," Obama told his daughters during the tour.

Even without a technical problem, high winds might have grounded Endeavour. The earliest its launch could be rescheduled is Sunday, NASA officials said, but no final decision has been made.

michael.memoli@latimes.com

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