Pamela A. Melroy Papers

Pamela Ann Melroy (Col., USAF, Ret.), had a distinguished 26-year career as a pilot in the US Air Force and NASA's Shuttle-era astronaut corps. Melroy is one of only two women to command spaceflight missions, and she is one of the earliest women to fly combat missions, graduate from USAF Test Pilot School, and serve as a military test pilot. Melroy graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics and Astronomy from Wellesley College, 1983 and a Master of Science degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1984. Melroy joined the Air Force ROTC program, becoming Cadet Wing Commander and Top Graduate, in 1983. She entered the US Air Force, completed flight training in 1985, and received assignments to fly the McDonnell Douglas KC-10 refueling tanker aircraft. She flew combat missions and supported combat operations in Operation Just Cause and Operation Desert Storm/Desert Shield (1990-1991). She then graduated from Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB and was assigned to evaluate the C-17 transport aircraft, setting eleven world records in that effort. Rising to the rank of major, serving as aircraft commander and instructor, and flying more than 50 different aircraft, Melroy attained the experience needed to compete for selection as a NASA pilot astronaut. NASA selected Melroy in 1995 in astronaut Class XV. She completed training and technical assignments and flew her first mission as pilot on STS-92 (Discovery) in 2000, attaining the rank of colonel upon completing delivery and installation of the Z1 truss on the International Space Station. Her second flight, STS-112 (Atlantis), occurred in 2002, for delivery and installation of the third ISS truss segment. Melroy then was selected for two very significant roles in the wake of the STS-107 Columbia tragedy in 2003. She first served as Lead for the Crew Module/Crew Equipment recovery and reconstruction effort, and then co-led the subsequent Columbia Crew Survival Investigation Study and resultant published report (NASA SP 2008-565). Melroy's third and final shuttle mission was STS-120 (Discovery) to deliver Node 2 (Harmony) to the International Space Station in 2007. In addition, it included a technically challenging unplanned repair of damaged solar arrays. This mission marked the first time that two spacecraft in orbit simultaneously were commanded by women, Melroy on the shuttle and Peggy Whitson on the space station. Melroy's final assignment before retiring from NASA in 2009 was Chief of the Orion branch of the Astronaut Office, working on development of the next crew vehicle. Upon leaving NASA, she became involved in developing regulations for commercial spaceflight and other pursuits.