CAPE CANAVERAL – KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – Veteran astronauts Michael E. Lopez-Alegria, Pamela A. Melroy and Scott Kelly, who have all demonstrated outstanding accomplishments in furthering NASA’s mission of exploration and discovery, have been selected to receive one of the highest honors in their industry. This May, they will be inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, and will join the just 99 individuals who currently hold that esteemed honor as the “First Class of the New Decade.”
An official ceremony and gala will take place at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on May 16, 2020. Set against the dramatic backdrop of the majestic Space Shuttle Atlantis,the ceremony will be attended by a roster of astronaut legends. Later that evening, the newest Hall of Fame members will be celebrated at a black-tie event hosted by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
“As we enter the year 2020, we are particularly excited to welcome these accomplished astronauts into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame,” said Curt Brown, space shuttle astronaut and board chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, which oversees the selection process. “They exemplify bravery, dedication and passion and their hard work has paved the way for what promises to be an unprecedented new decade of space exploration and interplanetary travel.”
Lopez-Alegria, Melroy and Kelly all have had distinguished careers, centered around their love of space and science:
Capt. Michael E. Lopez-Alegria, STS-73, STS-92, STS-113, Expedition 14
Michael E. Lopez-Alegria has more than 35 years of aviation and space experience with the U.S. Navy and NASA in a variety of roles including naval aviator, engineering test pilot, program manager and NASA astronaut. He has completed four NASA spaceflights, including space shuttle missions STS-73, STS-92, and STS-113, and served as commander of International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 14 (flying to and from the ISS aboard Soyuz TMA-9). He holds NASA records for most extravehicular activities (EVA) (aka spacewalks) - 10, as well as cumulative EVA time of 67 hours and 40 minutes. Lopez-Alegria is the former president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, where he served as spokesman, thought leader and advocate with the U.S. Congress and pertinent executive agencies, and advocated for favorable public policy on behalf of the commercial spaceflight industry. Currently, he is an independent consultant to traditional and commercial space companies and serves on several advisory boards and committees of public and private institutions, including the Human Exploration and Operations Committee of the NASA Advisory Council and the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee to the FAA. Lopez-Alegria is the chairman of ASTM International’s Committee on Commercial Spaceflight and past-president of the Association of Space Explorers, an international professional and educational organization of current and former astronauts.
Col. Pamela A. Melroy, STS-92, STS-112, STS-120
Pamela A. Melroy is an aerospace executive with government and industry experience across civil, commercial and national security space. She is a retired Air Force test pilot and former NASA astronaut and space shuttle commander. Melroy flew the KC-10 for six years at Barksdale Air Force Base as an Air Force co-pilot, aircraft commander and instructor pilot, and is a veteran of Operation Just Cause and Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, with more than 200 combat and combat support hours. Later, Melroy was assigned to the C-17 Combined Test Force, where she served as a test pilot until her selection for the astronaut program. She has logged more than 6,000 hours of flight time in more than 50 different aircraft and spacecraft.
Melroy was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1995 and has completed three space missions, serving as space shuttle pilot for STS-92 and STS-112, and space shuttle commander for STS-120. All three were assembly missions to build the International Space Station. She is one of only two women to command the space shuttle and has logged more than 38 days in space. Her multiple roles as an astronaut included launch and landing support, CAPCOM, crew module lead for the Columbia Reconstruction Team and deputy project manager for the Columbia crew survival investigation team.
Following her retirement from NASA in 2009, Melroy served as deputy program manager for the Lockheed Martin Orion Space Exploration Initiatives program and as a director of field operations and acting deputy associate administrator for commercial space transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration. She has also held positions with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Melroy is currently CEO of Melroy & Hollett Technology Partners and director of space technology and policy at Nova Systems, Pty, in Australia. She serves on multiple advisory boards including the User Advisory Group to the National Space Council and the Advisory Group to the Australian Space Agency.
Capt. Scott Kelly, STS-103, STS-118, Expedition 25/26, Expedition 43/44/45/46
Scott Kelly is a retired American astronaut and U.S. Navy Captain, U.S. spaceflight record holder and an experienced test pilot having logged more than 15,000 hours of flight time in more than
40 different aircraft and spacecraft. A former fighter pilot, Kelly flew the F-14 Tomcat aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Kelly was selected by NASA as an astronaut in 1996. A veteran of four space flights, he piloted space shuttle Discovery to the Hubble space telescope in 1999 during STS-103 and, subsequently, commanded space shuttle Endeavor on STS-118 to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2007. His long-duration space flight experience includes two flights on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, launching and landing from Kazakhstan and two stays aboard the ISS as commander, the first a 159-day mission in 2010-2011 followed by his record-breaking 340-day mission aboard the ISS in 2015. During his year-long mission, known worldwide as the “Year in Space,” he conducted three spacewalks before returning home in March 2016. Kelly traveled more than 200 million miles, which is more than twice the distance to the Sun from Earth and has orbited the Earth more than 8,300 times.
Among the many honors Kelly has received are the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Kelly is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a member of the Association of Space Explorers. He was appointed Champion for Space by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. As Champion for Space, Kelly helps raise awareness of UNOOSA’s activities. He is also a best-selling author of multiple books, including his memoir “Endurance.” His identical twin brother Mark is also a former NASA astronaut.
U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Process and Eligibility
The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame was spearheaded more than 30 years ago by the six surviving Mercury 7 astronauts. In November 2016, a new U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame opened at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, as part of the Heroes & Legends attraction.
Each year, inductees are selected by a committee of Hall of Fame astronauts, former NASA officials, flight directors, historians and journalists. The process is administered by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. To be eligible, an astronaut must have made his or her first flight at least 17 years before the induction. Candidates must be a U.S. citizen and a NASA-trained commander, pilot or mission specialist who has orbited the Earth at least once
About Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex brings to life the epic story of the U.S. space program, offering a full day or more of fun, inspiration and educational activities. This includes the Apollo/Saturn V Center, which features an actual Saturn V Moon rocket, and was recently upgraded and expanded in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch and Moon landing. Also included with admission are Heroes & Legends, featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame, presented by Boeing, the Kennedy Space Center Bus Tour, Space Shuttle Atlantis, Shuttle Launch Experience, 3D space films, Astronaut Encounter, Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted, Science on a Sphere, and the Rocket Garden. Add-on experiences available for an additional fee include the new Astronaut Training Experience Exploring with Lockheed Martin, Cosmic Quest, Dine With an Astronaut and special interest bus tours. Only 45 minutes from Orlando, Fla., Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex opens daily at 9 a.m. with closing times varying by season. Admission is $57 + tax for adults and $47 + tax for children ages 3 – 11. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers annual passes starting at $82 + tax for adults and $67 + tax for children ages 3 – 11. For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit www.KennedySpaceCenter.com.