Waves to crowd

Gabrielle Giffords makes first public appearance at Space Center astronaut salute

Gabrielle Giffords makes first public appearance at Space Center astronaut salute

News_Gabrielle Giffords_first photos_June 2011
Gabrielle Giffords, in a photo posted on Facebook a few weeks ago Photo by P.K. Weis/SouthwestPhotoBank.com

Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords made her first appearance in front of a crowd since being shot in the head in Tucson on Jan. 8. Giffords attended a ceremony honoring her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, and the Endeavour crew at Space Center Houston Monday night. Giffords entered in a wheel chair and received a standing ovation from the overflow crowd. She acknowledged the applause by waving to the audience.

According to tweets from the event, security was unusually tight with entrants being shadowed with metal detector wands.

Giffords rose from her wheelchair to kiss Kelly when he received the Spaceflight Medal. The award is made to shuttle astronauts upon their return from a successful mission. 

An account by ABC News says that Giffords was wearing glasses, a beige scarf, a light shirt, jeans and sneakers. Her hair was more closely cropped than in a recent photo that was published on her Facebook page. Giffords and Kelly held hands throughout the evening. She appeared to chat with those around her and laughed when the crew of STS-134 was introduced. She left at a point when home movies of the crew were shown.

Since being released from TIRR Memorial Hermann Hospital on June 15, Giffords has moved into her husband's League City home while continuing to receive outpatient therapy and made a private weekend trip to Tucson. She also dined at close friend Tilmann Fertitta's restaurant, Grotto, in early May, as CultureMap was the first to report. But the Space Center outing was her first  appearance in front of a large group of people.