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Posted at 9:25 PM ET, 01/ 8/2011

Gabrielle Giffords and her life with astronaut husband Mark Kelly

By The Reliable Source

Giffords and Kelly, a few years before their marriage. (File photo courtesy of Gabrielle Giffords)

Update, Tuesday 1/11: Astronaut Mark Kelly's somber mission

Gabrielle Giffords, a rising star in Democratic politics, also has stood out in Washington because of her unique personal life: The congresswoman's husband is an astronaut.

(Giffords was in intensive care Saturday night after being wounded in a Tucson shooting that killed six others.)

Giffords and Navy pilot Capt. Mark E. Kelly met in 2003 in a fellowship program that brings young U.S. leaders together with their Chinese counterparts to promote relations between the countries. They started dating a couple years later. In 2006, he blasted off on his second space shuttle mission while she was making her first run for Congress.

They married midway through her first term in November 2007 -- her wedding ring is inscribed, "You're the closest to heaven that I've ever been" -- and the following spring, Kelly was in orbit again on the Discovery.

They've mostly had a commuter marriage the past few years -- she splitting time between Tucson and D.C., while he is based in Houston, and meeting whenever their schedules allow.

Kelly is scheduled to go back in space in April as commander of the Endeavour on the final scheduled shuttle flight. But on Saturday, he was at his wife's side, after a Texas friend arranged a private jet to get him quickly to her hospital bed side in Tucson, the Houston Chronicle reported.

By The Reliable Source  | January 8, 2011; 9:25 PM ET
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