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Former astronaut Leland Melvin to be inducted into Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame
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Former astronaut Leland Melvin to be inducted into Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame

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LYNCHBURG — Leland Melvin, an engineer and retired NASA astronaut who is a Lynchburg native, will be inducted into the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame this November.

Melvin served on multiple missions to the International Space Station and accumulated 565 hours in space over his career.

He and two other men will be honored at the fall banquet of the Fredericksburg-based Virginia Aeronautical Historical Society for “extraordinary achievement in the aviation and aerospace realm,” according to a news release by the historical society on Friday.

A Heritage High School graduate, Melvin earned a football scholarship to the University of Richmond, where he studied chemistry. He initially pursued dreams of a professional football career, but after repeated injuries he shifted gears to attend the University of Virginia and earn his master’s in materials science engineering.

Melvin began work for NASA in 1989, at the Langley Research Center. He was selected for NASA’s astronaut training program in 1998 and went on to fly two missions to service the ISS. He later served at the Astronaut Office Space Station Branch and at the agency’s Washington headquarters as co-manager of the Educator Astronaut Program.

He eventually was named associate administrator for NASA’s Office of Education and retired from the agency in 2014.

Melvin will be inducted into the hall of fame on Nov. 13 in Fredericksburg alongside Randy Burdette, former executive director of the Virginia Department of Aviation, and U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, who grew up in Wise County and will be honored posthumously.

Created in 1978 by the historical society, the Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame has the purpose of “honoring those Virginians who have made significant and lasting contributions to aviation while preserving their stories for future generations,” according to the society’s website.

— Sarah Honosky

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