For astronauts Mark Lee and Jan Davis, it's a wedding gift that's out of this world. After much debate, NASA is letting the newlyweds become the first couple to fly together in space.

NASA normally avoids putting husbands and wives on the same shuttle flights. But because Lee and Davis got married after being assigned to a 1992 scientific research mission, the agency decided against splitting them up.Lee and Davis are the third married couple among about 80 current astronauts and 23 astronauts in training.

"It's good to think the space program is becoming like the real world," said astronaut M. Rhea Seddon, wife of astronaut Robert "Hoot" Gibson. The other astronaut couple are Bonnie Dunbar and Ronald Sega, an astronaut in training.

Lee and Davis were married in January, 11/2 years after being assigned to a September 1992 mission aboard the new shuttle Endeavour.