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Doctors clear Giffords to attend shuttle launch

Updated Monday, April 25 at 8:18 a.m. ET

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords has been cleared to attend the launch of her husband's space shuttle mission Friday, astronaut Mark Kelly told CBS News Anchor and Managing Editor Katie Couric in an exclusive interview to be broadcast Monday.

Couric sat down with Kelly in Houston ahead of the shuttle launch, and he shared details about how his wife is progressing as she recovers from the brain injury she suffered following the January 8 shooting in Tucson, Arizona.

Kelly said of Giffords' ability to leave her rehab: "I've met with her doctors, her neurosurgeon and her doctors. And ... they've given us permission to take her down to the launch. I'm excited about that, yes."

Complete coverage: Tragedy in Tucson
Gabrielle Giffords standing on her own

When Giffords heard she'd be able to attend the launch, "she said, 'awesome' and she pumped her fist," Kelly said.

In general, Giffords has been progressing well, Kelly said.

"Her personality's a hundred percent there," Kelly said. "You know, it's difficult for her to walk. The communication skills are difficult, at this point."

He said the prospect of attending the launch has been very motivating for Giffords in terms of her rehab.

According to Couric, who discussed the interview on "The Early Show" Monday, Giffords goes through three to five hours of rehabilitation every day at the TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, including speech therapy that incorporates music. Couric said Giffords likes to listen to U2 and "Beautiful Day" is one of her favorite songs.

Because Giffords was shot in her brain's left hemisphere, the right side of her body has been affected, particularly speech and motor skills. She's even learning to write with her left hand as a result, Couric reported.

Couric said that doctors' biggest concern about Giffords attending the launch was probably the travel to and from the site. She noted that part of Giffords' skull is still missing, though doctors plan to reattach it.

Couric also asked Kelly about the dangers of the space mission given his wife's condition.

"NASA says there's a 1 in 75 chance ... that something catastrophic could happen on any mission. But this is not his first time at the rodeo. He's been on three missions already. He knows the risk and reward ratio," Couric said.

Giffords has also encouraged him to go and her progress has helped him make that decision.

"He kept waiting for her to have setbacks, because he was told repeatedly. And he said she just hasn't had setbacks."

Couric's full interview will be broadcast on Monday, April 25 on the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric (6:30 PM ET) on the CBS Television Network.

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