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Astronaut Mark Kelly Lands in Sioux Falls

May 13, 2014, 5:04 PM by Brady Mallory

Astronaut Mark Kelly Lands in Sioux Falls
SIOUX FALLS, SD -

An American astronaut, who has been to space and back many times, also has a number of personal experiences that keep him grounded.  Retired Commander Mark Kelly shared some of those stories with the people at the Sioux Falls Convention and Visitors Bureau's Visitor Industry Annual Luncheon. 

He flew his first of four missions in 2001 aboard Space Shuttle Endeavour.  Ten years later, he commanded the same ship on its final mission.  If Kelly's name sounds familiar, it probably stems from another set of headlines from 2011.  On January 8, his wife, then Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, was speaking at a constituent meeting at a grocery store in a suburban area of Tucson, Arizona.  In an attempt to kill her, someone shot her in the head.

"She's about 3.5 years -- coming up on three-and-a-half years -- since she was nearly assassinated," Kelly said.

18 other people were shot.  Six people died.  A judge sentenced Jared Lee Loughner to life in prison for the crime.  Kelly said his wife has made great progress, and most recently, has started riding a bike again.

"I talked to her yesterday, and she rode it twice.  Two hours.  One hour in the morning, and one hour yesterday.  She's pretty excited," Kelly said.

Though much of the world may know him as the husband who stood by his wife, he landed in front of the Sioux Falls audience to talk about his own endeavors.

"Let me just say, I come in peace," Kelly joked.

Drawing from his own success stories -- 15 years with NASA, a retired Navy captain, a naval aviator during the Gulf War, and best-selling author -- Kelly explained how determination, goals and resilience can take you to anywhere.  Those traits have certainly done a lot for him.

"Sometimes life just throws you curve balls.  You just have to, you just have to figure it out," Kelly said.

Newly 50, you could say there is not a lot Kelly has not done, but he made it apparent there is still so much he wants to accomplish.  He said he sets new goals for himself all the time.  If you ask him, he will tell you there is really no big secret to achieving what you want to.

"Things can change very quickly in anybody's life.  There's really nothing you can do to prepare for it, but you've always got to try to make the best out of it," Kelly said.

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