Leland Melvin: From the Endzone to the International Space Station

“Sometimes when you don’t believe in yourself, other people do, and they give you a second chance. That’s been a theme through my life, being given a second chance. And now I’m helping to inspire the next generation of explorers.”

Even as a former standout athlete—he was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 1986 NFL Draft—with a masters in Materials Sciences, Leland Melvin never dreamed of becoming an astronaut until a colleague at NASA convinced him to enter the trials. Despite a debilitating ear injury sustained during training, Leland served among the first flight crews that led America back into space following the space shuttle Columbia disaster. He is now a NASA educator, helping to raise the profile of the U.S. space program in the post-shuttle era.

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