Leroy Chiao is a former NASA astronaut and International Space Station (ISS) commander. Chiao holds appointments at Rice University and the Baylor College of Medicine, and is the special advisor for human spaceflight to the Space Foundation. Chiao has worked extensively in both government and commercial space programs, and has held leadership positions in commercial ventures and NASA. In his 15 years with NASA, Chiao logged more than 229 days in space, more than 36 hours spent in Extra-Vehicular Activity (spacewalks). From June to September 2009, he served as a member of the White House appointed Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee, and currently serves on the NASA Advisory Council.
With the recent discovery of a possible Earth-like planet around a star in our cosmic backyard, tantalizing new questions are being raised about the possibility of finding life elsewhere in the universe.