Giffords' Husband, NASA Astronaut, Rushes to Ariz.

Shuttle Discovery Commander Mark Kelly talks with his wife Gabriele Giffords before boarding a training aircraft at Kennedy Space Center May 28, 2008 in Fla. DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Shuttle Discovery Commander Mark Kelly talks with his wife Gabriele Giffords before boarding a training aircraft at Kennedy Space Center May 28, 2008 in Fla.
DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

(CBS) Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, 40, an Arizona Democrat married to veteran astronaut Mark Kelly, was shot in the head during a public meeting outside a Tucson supermarket Saturday. More than a dozen bystanders also were shot -- and some reportedly killed, including a 9-year-old child, officials said -- when a lone gunman allegedly opened fire.

Scheduled to command the shuttle Endeavour in April, Kelly immediately flew to Tucson from Houston, NASA officials said.

His twin brother Scott, in orbit commanding the International Space Station, was informed of the shooting by flight controllers at the Johnson Space Center.

The shooting occurred in front of a Safeway supermarket in Tucson where Giffords was hosting an event called "Congress on Your Corner" intended to let members of the 8th Congressional District to meet their congresswoman.

She is a member of the House Committee on Armed Services, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Committee on Science and Technology.

In her capacity as chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, Giffords played a key role in recent debate over NASA's future direction and was widely respected for her thorough knowledge of the issues.

She married Kelly, veteran of three shuttle flights, in November 2007.

An ardent supporter of the manned space program, Giffords questioned the Obama administration's decision to scuttle the Constellation moon program, an initiative promoted by President Bush, and the Ares rockets NASA was designing to replace the space shuttle.

  • William Harwood

    Bill Harwood has been covering the U.S. space program full-time since 1984, first as Cape Canaveral bureau chief for United Press International and now as a consultant for CBS News. He has covered more than 125 shuttle missions, every interplanetary flight since Voyager 2's flyby of Neptune, and scores of commercial and military launches. Based at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Harwood is a devoted amateur astronomer and co-author of "Comm Check: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia." You can follow his frequent status updates at the CBS News Space page.

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