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Rochester's Pam Melroy nominated to No. 2 position at NASA


A former NASA astronaut with Western New York roots has been nominated by President Joe Biden to a top spot with the space agency.

On Friday, Biden nominated Col. Pam Melroy, who considers Rochester her hometown, to serve as the agency’s deputy administrator.

Melroy is one of only two women to command a space shuttle and logged more than 38 days in space. All three of her missions involved helping build the International Space Station.

Born in Palo Alto, CA, she graduated from Bishop Kearney High School in Rochester in 1979 and her parents still live in Upstate New York. She earned a bachelor of arts in Physics and Atronomy from Wellesley College and a master of science degree in Earth and Planetary Sciences from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Melroy served more than two decades in the U.S. Air Force and as a NASA astronaut, then took on a number of leadership roles, including at Lockheed Martin, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Last year, it was announced that Melroy would be inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but the ceremony was delayed because the pandemic. It has now been scheduled for November.

“It’s a great honor to be nominated by @POTUS to support @SenBillNelson and help lead NASA. The agency is critical in America’s fight to combat climate change and maintain leadership in space,” Melroy said of her nomination on Twitter. "This year, NASA will embark on the 1st human deep space exploration program since Apollo, launch the James Webb Telescope, test the first all-electric X-Plane and further technologies to take humans to Mars. The way to do it is as a team that honors diversity in every dimension!”

Last month, President Biden announced his intent to nominate former Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida to the top job at NASA, as administrator.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's Director of News and Public Affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.
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