Astronaut Biography: Leland D. Melvin
NASA astronaut Leland Melvin poses for a preflight portrait in his launch and entry pressure suit.
Credit: NASA.

NAME: Leland D. Melvin (Mr.)
NASA Astronaut

PERSONAL DATA: Born February 15, 1964 in Lynchburg, Virginia. Unmarried. Recreational interests include photography, piano, reading, music, cycling, tennis, and snowboarding. Loves walking his dogs, Jake and Scout. Chosen by the Detroit Lions in the 11th round of the 1986 NFL college draft. Also participated in the Toronto Argonauts and Dallas Cowboys football training camps. His parents Deems and Grace Melvin, reside in Lynchburg, Virginia.

EDUCATION: Graduated from Heritage High School, Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1982; received a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the University of Richmond, Richmond, Virginia in 1986; and a master of science degree in materials science engineering from the University of Virginia in 1991.

ORGANIZATIONS: National Technical Association (Hampton Roads Chapter Secretary 1993), American Chemical Society, The Society for Experimental Mechanics.

SPECIAL HONORS/AWARDS: Invention Disclosure Award for Lead Insensitive Fiber Optic Phase Locked Loop Sensor, NASA Outstanding Performance Awards (8), NASA Superior Accomplishment Award (2), Key to the City of Lynchburg, Virginia, NCAA Division I Academic All American, University of Richmond Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee.

NASA EXPERIENCE: Mr. Melvin began working in the Fiber Optic Sensors group of the Nondestructive Evaluation Sciences Branch at NASA Langley Research Center in 1989 where he conducted research in the area of physical measurements for the development of advanced instrumentation for Nondestructive Evaluation (NDE).

His responsibilities included using optical fiber sensors to measure strain, temperature, and chemical damage in both composite and metallic structures. Additional projects included developing optical interferometric techniques for quantitative determination of damage in aerospace structures and materials. In 1994, Mr. Melvin was selected to lead the Vehicle Health Monitoring (VHM) team for the cooperative Lockheed/NASA X-33 Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV) program.

The team developed distributed fiber optic strain, temperature and hydrogen sensors for the reduction of vehicle operational costs and to monitor composite liquid oxygen tank and cryogenic insulation performance. In 1996, Mr. Melvin co-designed and monitored construction of an optical NDE facility capable of producing in-line fiber optic Bragg grating strain sensors at rates in excess of 1000 per hour. This facility will provide a means for performing advanced sensor and laser research for development of aerospace and civil health monitoring systems.

Selected by NASA JSC in June 1998, Mr. Melvin reported for training in August 1998. Astronaut Candidate Training included orientation briefings and tours, numerous scientific and technical briefings, intensive instruction in Shuttle and International Space Station systems, physiological training and ground school to prepare for T-38 flight training, as well as learning water and wilderness survival techniques.

Since then he has been assigned to the Astronaut Office Space Station Operations Branch, and the Education Department at NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C. As co-manager of NASA's Educator Astronaut Program, Leland Melvin traveled across the country, engaging thousands of students and teachers in the excitement of space exploration, and inspiring them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. He next served in the Robotics Branch of the Astronaut Office. Mr. Melvin is assigned to the STS-122 mission that will deliver the European Space Agency?s Columbus Laboratory to the International Space Station.

Last Updated: February 2007

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