Previous NASA astronaut Leland Melvin remembers the law enforcement halt that created him sweat

Former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin remembers the police stop that made him sweat

A police quit could have cost former NASA astronaut Leland Melvin his vocation in house in advance of he ever bought commenced.



a dog wearing a costume: Melvin's now-famous NASA portrait features his two rescue dogs, Jake and Scout, who he secretly smuggled into NASA for the photo shoot.


© NASA
Melvin’s now-famous NASA portrait features his two rescue puppies, Jake and Scout, who he secretly smuggled into NASA for the image shoot.

Melvin, who was never ever fearful launching into area on two House Shuttle Atlantis missions to aid make the International House Station, under no circumstances realized what was likely to happen when the cops pulled him over.

“I have been on this rocket with millions of kilos of thrust and not at the time was I scared of likely to area,” claimed Melvin, who is Black. “It can be when I’ve been stopped by police officers that I failed to even know … I was starting up to sweat and just holding the steering wheel seriously difficult.”



Léopold Eyharts, Stanley G. Love, Stephen Frick, Leland D. Melvin, Rex J. Walheim, Hans Schlegel posing for a photo: Melvin was with nine other crew members on the space station in February 2008. On the left side of the frame, from top to bottom, are astronauts Daniel Tani, Stanley Love and the European Space Agency's Leopold Eyharts. In the center, from the top, are astronauts Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Steve Frick, Peggy Whitson and Alan Poindexter. Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko of Russia's Federal Space Agency is top right and below him is ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel.


© NASA
Melvin was with nine other crew associates on the house station in February 2008. On the left aspect of the body, from major to bottom, are astronauts Daniel Tani, Stanley Adore and the European Place Agency’s Leopold Eyharts. In the heart, from the major, are astronauts Leland Melvin, Rex Walheim, Steve Frick, Peggy Whitson and Alan Poindexter. Cosmonaut Yuri Malenchenko of Russia’s Federal House Agency is leading suitable and underneath him is ESA astronaut Hans Schlegel.

“Each and every father in the Black community has a dialogue with their son to notify them that if you get stopped by an officer, you know, you believe the position, which is 10-2 (arms on the wheel), glimpse straight ahead,” he extra. “You notify the officer, you know, you happen to be genuine respectful, you say you might be achieving for your obvious matters.”

Melvin spoke Monday during a panel celebrating Black lives in the space marketplace all through the 2020 Digital Individuals to Mars Summit hosted by Explore Mars, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the human exploration of Mars.



Leland D. Melvin wearing a suit and tie smiling and looking at the camera: NASA astronaut Leland Melvin


© NASA
NASA astronaut Leland Melvin

Panelists — who shared their private ordeals and talked about the Black Life Subject motion, the demise of George Floyd, and subsequent protests — included previous NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, NASA Deputy Manager of Commercial Lunar Payload Solutions Camille Alleyne and Danielle Wood, director of the Room Enabled Investigation Group in MIT’s Media Lab.

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Melvin can continue to recall one site visitors cease when he was a student at Heritage Substantial Faculty in Lynchburg, Virginia, wherever he graduated in 1982.

“I was in a car or truck with my girlfriend and a law enforcement officer rolled up on us,” Melvin claimed. “He took her out of the vehicle and informed her that I was raping her because he desired me to go to jail.

“And you know, when Black guys get into the prison method, that they genuinely under no circumstances get out and have a second probability. I was heading to college on scholarship and want to be a chemistry main.”



Leland D. Melvin standing in front of a building: Melvin aboard the space station in 2009.


© NASA
Melvin aboard the place station in 2009.

Melvin urged men and women to make guaranteed they’re not aspect of the issue by contributing to racism, inquiring people today to assess equally what they are performing to harm and how they can enable combat racism.

The path to space

The good thing is that halt didn’t derail his occupation. Melvin ended up logging a lot more than 565 hrs in place, but house was not his initially alternative.

Throughout the Apollo 11 moon landing in 1969, Melvin reported he was the “antenna engineer,” holding the antennas for his moms and dads even though they viewed it.

“And the upcoming working day all the children in the community mentioned, ‘Do you want to be an astronaut?’ No, I will not see an individual who seems to be like me,” Melvin recalled.



Leland D. Melvin sitting on a blue surface: Melvin read to first and third grade students from the book "The Moon Over Star" at Ferebee-Hope Elementary School on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011, in honor of Black History Month, and to highlight the importance of reading.


© Carla Cioffi/NASA
Melvin browse to very first and 3rd grade students from the guide “The Moon In excess of Star” at Ferebee-Hope Elementary College on Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2011, in honor of Black Background Thirty day period, and to spotlight the importance of examining.

Five blocks down the avenue from where Melvin grew up, Arthur Ashe discovered how to participate in tennis. Ashe, the only Black gentleman to gain singles titles at Wimbledon, the US Open up and the Australian Open, turned professional in 1969. Ashe was also the very first Black player selected to the United States Davis Cup staff.

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Leland D. Melvin wearing a uniform: NASA astronaut Leland D. Melvin wasn't scared to fly into space.


© Mark Sowa/NASA
NASA astronaut Leland D. Melvin wasn’t terrified to fly into area.

“My father talked about his perseverance his athleticism, his intelligence,” Melvin mentioned. “‘I want you to be like him.’ It wasn’t until finally I bought to NASA, when a friend mentioned, ‘You’d be a good astronaut.'”

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Melvin failed to fill out an application right until his buddy, Charlie Camarda, got into the astronaut program. “If that man can get in, I can get in, and which is when I utilized.”

Melvin was drafted in 1986 to enjoy in the National Football League for the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys but pulled his hamstrings and didn’t finish up participating in any typical time online games.

In 1989, he started doing the job at NASA Langley Analysis Center in the Fiber Optic Sensors group of the Nondestructive Analysis Sciences Department, according to NASA. He was picked as an astronaut candidate in 1998.

In addition to serving as an astronaut, Melvin has also headed NASA’s instruction application, co-chaired the White House’s Federal Coordination in STEM Training Job Drive and chaired the Global Space Schooling Board.

Contrasting times

Melvin acquired about the death of George Floyd even though in Florida for the launch of NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon.

“I see this Black man receiving his everyday living snuffed out, saying he cannot breathe,” Melvin explained. “And when I read him contacting for his mother, that is when I started off crying because I believed about my mother. I considered about if that was me, becoming the life snuffed out of me.”

Floyd’s demise as now-previous police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for just about 9 minutes was in sharp contrast with the achievement of launching American astronauts from US soil on US rockets for the 1st time because 2011.

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“If we can (ship persons to the Intercontinental House Station), we can do nearly anything. We can take care of these troubles.”

And it prospects back to the necessity of diversity, Melvin claimed.

Melvin reported his “aha” minute in area arrived unexpectedly. He predicted it would happen as he helped install the European House Agency’s Columbus Laboratory on the International Area Station in 2008.

But it was not right up until NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson invited Melvin above to the Russian section of the station to share a meal. The crew integrated astronauts with Russian, French, German, African American and Asian American backgrounds and was hosted by Whitson — the 1st woman commander of the space station, Melvin claimed.

“We ended up breaking bread at 17,500 miles for each hour, heading all-around the planet every 90 minutes. And that was when my head exploded, and I had this epiphany about our world and hunting back again at it, receiving this factor identified as the orbital perspective.”

It is something astronauts gain as they gaze down at our earth as a whole.

“I consider we as a civilization need to have to just take that point that we get in room as astronauts,” he mentioned. “And we know that if we will not perform alongside one another as a staff, and we ended up one particular of the most diverse groups in house, then we (would) perish.”

Functioning collectively is the only way Melvin thinks humanity can endure on this world, get back to the moon and get to Mars.

“The way we do it is with the correct viewpoint. And we convey this viewpoint house from house, to go again to house as a civilization of numerous people today,” he mentioned. “It is really standpoint with each other, that we do the job with each other, we live alongside one another, and we alter the universe alongside one another.”

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Cory Weinberg

About the author: Cory Weinberg

Cory Weinberg covers the intersection of tech and cities. That means digging into how startups and big tech companies are trying to reshape real estate, transportation, urban planning, and travel. Previously, he reported on Bay Area housing and commercial real estate for the San Francisco Business Times. He received a "best young journalist" award from the National Association of Real Estate Editors.

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