Astronaut Husband Of Gabrielle Giffords Retires

Mark Kelly, who only a month ago concluded the final mission of the Shuttle Endeavour, has announced he’s retiring from NASA and the military:

Astronaut Mark Kelly, the husband of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), announced Tuesday he would retire Oct. 1.

Kelly, a captain in both NASA and the Navy, recently piloted the final flight of the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Giffords, who is recovering from a January assassination attempt, made her first public appearance since the shooting to watch the shuttle’s liftoff.

On Tuesday, Kelly said on his Facebook page that now he wanted to be there for Giffords.

“Gabrielle is working hard every day on her mission of recovery,” he wrote. “I want to be by her side. Stepping aside from my work in the Navy and at NASA will allow me to be with her and with my two daughters. I love them all very much and there is no doubt that we will move forward together. After some time off, I will look at new opportunities and am hopeful that one day I will again serve our country.”


Moments after Kelly announced his retirement Tuesday, book publisher Scribner announced it had signed a deal to publish a book co-authored by Kelly and Giffords. The book is set to detail the early phrases of the couple’s relationship, as well as how they’ve been affected by the Jan. 8 Tucson, Ariz. shooting.

There’s been some speculation that Kelly may follow his wife into politics, especially if she’s unable to return to Congress.


FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.


  1. Moosebreath says:

    Since the shuttle program will be over by the end of this summer, if he had not retired, what would his job have been?

  2. PJ says:

    They aren’t going to shut down the ISS just because the shuttle program is over. The ISS is going to be manned until 2020 or 2028, so I’m certain that there would have still been possibilities for him to return to the station if he hadn’t retired.

  3. Moosebreath says:


    Since Kelly is a pilot by training, and the differences between spaceships to pilot is huge, the best that can be said is that he would require massive retraining when he’s in in mid-40’s (i.e., already on the older edge for astronauts). I suspect it was going to be far more likely that he would be pushed out anyway.

  4. Richard Gardner says:

    So many details wrong here, in the post and the comments.

    First off, he will retire from the military in 4 months, he has not yet retired. Your tense is wrong. The Navy’s retirement for officers is significantly different from the other Services, and there is rarely a sudden military retirement. except for cause (3 months minimum, usually 6 months)..

    Next, he is a Naval Officer, not just an astronaut. There are lots of staff jobs available to a hard charging Naval Officer of the 1300 community (flier).. You don’t think he couldn’t work for the Office of Legislative Affairs (OLA)? (Navy’s liaison office with Congress – but it would be a conflict of interest actually, so no, he couldn’t work there – but he has the credentials).

    Or he could have returned to his pilot community and gone for carrier command (after nuclear training – not going to happen).

    Retired Navy Nuke Officer here.