Astronaut Mark Kelly to Speak at Democratic National Convention Today

Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly applauds President Barack Obama after the 2012 State of the Union address. Kelly will speak during the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016.
Former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly applauds President Barack Obama after the 2012 State of the Union address from his seat with First Lady Michelle Obama. Kelly will speak during the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on July 27, 2016.
(Image: © White House Webcast)

Retired NASA astronaut Mark Kelly and his wife, former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, will address the Democratic National Convention (DNC) in Philadelphia today (July 27), presumably about gun violence in America.

In January 2011, Giffords was shot in the head during a meeting with constituents at a Tucson supermarket. She survived, but six other people present at the event were killed.

Since that tragic event, both Giffords and Kelly have been outspoken advocates of the need for more gun control, and it appears they will address this topic today at the DNC.

"Gabby & I are excited to speak at @DemConvention on Wed. about why @HillaryClinton will make our country safer," Kelly said Thursday (July 21) via his Twitter account, ShuttleCDRKelly.

Kelly, 52, is a former Navy fighter pilot and test pilot. He spent a total of 54 days in space during four space shuttle missions, from 2001 through 2011. He served as commander for the last two of those missions: the STS-124 flight of the shuttle Discovery in May-June 2008 and the STS-134 mission of Endeavour in May 2011.

Kelly retired in October 2011, partly to help Giffords recover from the injuries she suffered during the January 2011 assassination attempt.

Mark Kelly is the identical twin brother of former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who in March of this year completed the first-ever yearlong mission aboard the International Space Station (a mission Scott Kelly flew with cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko).

Though Mark stayed on the ground, he was a part of the yearlong mission as well. He provided samples and performed tests, serving as a sort of experimental control for researchers investigating possible genetic changes that long-term spaceflight may have induced in Scott.

A former NASA astronaut also spoke at this year's Republican National Convention (RNC), which was held last week in Cleveland. Eileen Collins addressed the RNC on July 20, the 47th anniversary of the historic Apollo 11 moon landings, and urged the crowd the help "make America first again" in the field of spaceflight.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on Space.com.

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