While the launch of the space shuttle Endeavour from the Kennedy Space Center was scrubbed Friday due to technical problems, the presence of a recovering U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was enough to give the nation a lift of its own.
Giffords' husband, Navy Capt. Mark Kelly, will command the 14-day mission and six-member crew, slated to deliver supplies and scientific equipment to the International Space Station. And the severely injured Democratic congresswoman from Arizona will be there when the shuttle launches. Giffords was seen boarding an aircraft Wednesday in Houston, under her own power, for a flight to Cape Canaveral. In January, she was shot in the head in an assassination attempt at a political event in Tucson, Ariz. Her remarkable recovery has been followed closely.
The confluence of events provides a moment to reflect on the power of human ingenuity and will. As soon as Monday, the second-to-last shuttle could launch, marking the approaching end to a spectacularly successful program of science and discovery. In the audience will be Giffords, who is recovering thanks to modern medicine and her own determination. Sometimes it seems that anything is possible when human beings reach high enough.