STS-120 Commander Pam Melroy; in elite company

Pamela A. Melroy, 46, a native of upstate New York, is the Commander of the present STS-120 Shuttle Mission and is in elite company. She was selected as an astronaut in 1995 with 15 others and is currently placed in Group 15. Melroy is one of just eleven active commanders in NASA, and one of only two women, the other being Peggy Whitson (1996) who is the current commander of the ISS. Only two other Commanders have served longer as an astronaut than Melroy: Jett and Lopez-Alegria.

Melroy is a graduate of Wellesley (83) and M.I.T. (84). She is also a veteran of JUST CAUSE and DESERT SHIELD/DESERT STORM, with over 200 combat and combat support hours. She has logged over 5,000 hours flight time in over 45 different aircraft. Melroy’s first space-flight experience was aboard STS-92 Discovery (October 11-24, 2000).

There are 132 active and management astronauts listed. Just eleven of those have a commander-status. Twenty-five of the 132 are women. Only two of the 25 women are commanders.

Other Commanders listed on the Johnson Space Centers list of active and management astronauts:

  • Scott D. Altman, selected in 1995, Group 15
    Commander experience: [STS-109 in 2002]
  • Michael E. Finke, selected in 1996, Group 16, Mission Specialist and ISS Commander
    Commander experience: [back-up Commander ISS Expedition-13]
  • Stephen N. Frick, selected in 1996, Group 16
    Commander experience: [assigned Commander of upcoming STS-122 mission]
  • Dominic L. Gorie, selected in 1995, Group 15
    Commander experience: [STS-108 in 2001; assigned to command upcoming STS-123]
  • Brent W. Jett, selected in 1992, Group 14
    Commander experience: [Commanded STS-97 in 2000, and STS-115 in 2006]
  • Mark E. Kelly, selected in 1996, Group 16
    Commander experience: [Assigned to command upcoming STS-124]
  • Scott J. Kelly, selected in 1996, Group 16, Commander, ISS Flight Engineer
    Commander experience: [STS-118 in 2007]
  • Michael E. Lopez-Alegria, selected in 1992, Mission Specialist, ISS Commander
    Commander experience: he led the newly formed ISS Crew Operations branch of the Astronaut Office.
  • Pamela A. Melroy, selected in 1995, Group 15
    Commander experience: [STS-120 is Melroy’s first mission-experience as a Commander]
  • Mark L. Polansky, selected in 1996, Group 16
    Commander experience: [STS-116 in 2006]
  • Frederick W. Sturckow, selected in 1995, Group 15
    Commander experience: [STS-117 in 2007]
  • Peggy A. Whitson, selected in 1996, Group 16, Mission Specialist, ISS Commander
    Commander experience: trained as the backup ISS Commander for Expedition 14 from Nov. 2005-Sept. 2006; Whitson is currently serving a six month tour of duty aboard the International Space Station as the ISS Commander for Expedition 16.

Active astronauts are U.S. astronauts who are currently eligible for flight assignment, including those who are assigned to crews. There are currently 92 qualified active astronauts: Commanders [11], Pilots [18] and Mission Specialists [65]. There is overlap since some astronauts can hold more than one status.

Management astronauts are experienced astronauts who have been promoted to other positions within NASA, or astronauts on special duty assignments or sabbaticals that make them unavailable for direct support to the Astronaut Office. There are currently 38 astronauts at NASA in management status.

Active and management astronauts can hold one (or more) of the following levels:

  • Commanders – eleven hold this status
  • Mission Specialist – 65 astronauts
  • Flight Engineer – 10 astronauts
  • Pilot – 18 astronauts
  • Test Pilot -one astronaut
  • Research Pilot – two astronauts
  • Management (various areas) – 38 management astronauts
  • ISS astronauts – 14 astronauts
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~ by tellinghistory on October 25, 2007.

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