Astronaut & Space Thought Leader
Leland Melvin is an engineer, educator, former NASA astronaut, and NFL wide receiver. He served on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on missions STS-122 (2008) and STS-129 (2009), helping to construct the International Space Station.
Upon hanging up his space boots, he led NASA Education and co-chaired the White House’s Federal Coordination in STEAM Education Task Force, developing the nation’s 5-year STEM education plan.
After 24 years with NASA as a researcher, astronaut, and Senior Executive Service leader, he shares his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer, and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue STEAM careers.
Leland holds five honorary doctorates for his service in education, the sciences, and philanthropy.
Leland released his memoir, Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances. In it, Leland shares his personal journey from the gridiron to the stars and examines the intersecting roles of community, perseverance, and grace that align to create the opportunities for success.
Leland looks back on his uncommon life — he was the first person in human history to catch a pass in the NFL and walk in space. Leland will examine his life through the prism of success and achievement. How did he succeed where he rightly should have failed? What motivated him to overcome injuries, setbacks, expulsions, and debilitating deafness? Leland will not only recount his path with honesty and curiosity, but he will also mine the latest thinking by researchers, authors, and academics, applying their work to his own life – and by extension giving the audience applicable takeaways.
Leland was amazing. His gentle, human approach was exactly what the team needed, and he was by far everyone's favorite part of the event. I would hire him as a speaker over and over again.