Gabrielle Giffords to attend shuttle launch after months of grueling rehab

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and astronaut Mark Kelly.
Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and astronaut Mark Kelly.

(CBS/AP) - Doctors have green-lighted a plan for Gabrielle Giffords to attend her astronaut husband's upcoming space shuttle launch.

The news comes after months in which the Rep. Giffords - the Arizona Democrat who was shot in the head on Jan. 8 during an assassination attempt - has been relearning how to speak, walk, and take care of herself. She's also been listening to music and singing - as part of musical therapy - and asking for her favorite foods and visiting with family, friends, and her rabbi.

Her husband, Mark Kelly, told CBS News anchor Katie Couric that Giffords will witness the launch of Endeavour, which is scheduled for Friday afternoon in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Kelly is the commander of the mission.

"I've met with her doctors, her neurosurgeon and ... they've given us permission to take her down to the launch," Kelly said in the interview in Houston.

Speaking about the interview, Couric said the trip to Florida would be a welcome break for Giffords, who now spends a grueling three to five hours every day in rehab. She said Giffords still needs assistance when she walks and is learning to write with her left hand, since the head wound left her weak on the right side.

She also wears a helmet to protect her brain, Couric said, because doctors had to remove a portion of her skull to treat the injury.

But for all her physical problems, Giffords' spirit is said to be intact.

What was her reaction when she heard that she would be allowed to attend the launch?

"I think she said, 'Awesome,' and pumped her fist one more time," Kelly told Couric.