Former Air Force Pilot Second Woman to Command Shuttle
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 22, 2007 Retired Air Force Col. Pamela A. Melroy will become the second woman to command a NASA space shuttle flight when Discovery lifts off from Cape Canaveral, Fla., tomorrow.
Retired Air Force Col. Pamela A. Melroy is the second woman to command a space shuttle mission. NASA photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The STS-120 flight is the 23rd shuttle mission to the International Space Station, according NASA’s Web site. The mission will launch an Italian-built U.S. multi-port module for the station. The “Harmony” device will provide attachment points for European and Japanese laboratory modules.
Melroy, 46, piloted KC-10 tanker planes and tested prototype C-17 transport aircraft in the Air Force. She retired from the military in February.
In a recent interview, Melroy said she’d always wanted to experience space travel. “That was my dream; even going into the Air Force, I knew I wanted to be an astronaut,” said Melroy, who was born in Palo Alto, Calif.
Melroy is leading a crew of six other astronauts, including two military officers, aboard Discovery. She is the second woman to command a shuttle flight. Air Force Col. Eileen M. Collins became the first woman to command a shuttle flight aboard the Columbia during mission STS-93 in July 1999. Collins commanded the Columbia again during shuttle mission STS-114 in July-August 2005. Collins retired from NASA in May 2006.
Other STS-120 crew members are:
-- Marine Col. George D. Zamka, 45, born in Jersey City, N.J.;
-- Scott E. Parazynski, 46, born in Little Rock, Ark.;
-- Army Col. Douglas H. Wheelock, 47, born in Binghamton, N.Y.;
-- Stephanie D. Wilson, 41, born in Boston;
-- Paolo A. Nespoli, 50, a European Space Agency astronaut who was born in Milan, Italy; and
-- Daniel M. Tani, 46, born in Ridley Park, Pa.
Another astronaut, Clayton C. Anderson, 48, will return to earth from the space station aboard shuttle mission STS-120. Tani will replace Anderson aboard the space station. Tani will return to earth on shuttle mission STS-122.
Discovery’s STS-120 mission is slated to return to the John F. Kennedy Space Center’s shuttle landing site in Florida on Nov. 6.