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 is the second woman to command a NASA space shuttle flight as Discovery lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

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.

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