NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy Exclusive on “This Week in Space”

Pam Melroy on This Week in Space

Ms. Melroy Joined the National Space Society’s Rod Pyle and Space.com’s Tariq Malik

NASA Deputy Administrator Pamela Melroy joined Ad Astra magazine Editor-in-Chief Rod Pyle and Space.com Editor-in-Chief Tariq Malik for an inspiring discussion on episode #98 of “This Week in Space” on February 16. Discussion topics included NASA’s current priorities on the Moon, her role and duties as Deputy Administrator, Ms. Melroy’s inspiration to become a U.S. Air Force test pilot and astronaut, and much more.

“Having Ms. Melroy on ‘This Week in Space’ was a high point for Tariq and me,” said Pyle. “She is a pioneer among women in spaceflight and only the second woman to command a shuttle mission, among many other achievements. Her message to young people and women was truly inspiring. My thanks to past show guest Dr. Greg Autry for introducing her to us.”

Melroy piloted two space shuttle missions and commanded a third. After leaving NASA in 2009, she served as the deputy program manager of Space Exploration Initiatives with Lockheed Martin before joining the Federal Aviation Administration in 2011. There she served as a senior technical advisor and director of field operations for the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation. She left the FAA in 2013 to work at DARPA as the deputy director of the Tactical Technology Office.

Melroy holds a BS in physics and astronomy from Wellesley College and an MS in Earth and Planetary Science from MIT. She served in the U.S. Air Force, accruing over 200 hours in combat and combat support, with over 5000 hours of total flight time in 50 different aircraft. She flew as a test pilot until joining NASA in 1994 and ultimately became Deputy Administrator in 2021…but it was not always an easy road.

“At times in my career, especially being at the front end of women going in as military pilots, and certainly being a test pilot…there were people who were uncomfortable with you being there.” But she kept her goals in sight. “I found that if I kept my eye on the ball, which is that I wanted to be a shuttle commander and I know I can do this,” the rewards would come, though it was an uphill battle at the time. “We’re in a different place now,” she added, referring to women in active spaceflight roles. “There are plenty of role models out there.”

Melroy related one particularly entertaining moment in her career as a pilot. “I had a [male] pilot once say to me, ‘I’ve never flown with a woman pilot…’ I told him that was okay, I’ve flown with lots of guys, I’ll show you how it’s done.” She noted that attitudes have shifted greatly since that time; “We don’t have that problem anymore—we’re integrating women at all levels.”

This Week in Space” is available on Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, iHeart, Spotify, Pocketcasts, and in video on YouTube and on the TWiT Tech Podcast Network. New episodes are posted each Friday. The show is produced by Rod Pyle of the National Space Society, hosted by Pyle and Tariq Malik of Space.com, and engineered by John Slanina and Anthony Nielsen. Ant Pruitt was integral to the show’s founding. The show is free in both audio and video formats. Past guests have included Bill Nye, “Star Trek’s” John de Lancie, YouTube’s Isaac Arthur, NASA’s Alan Stern, Griffith Observatory director Edwin Krupp, sci-fi author Daniel Suarez, former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver, NSS COO Dale Skran, NSS VP of Space development Greg Autry, and astronauts Jose Hernandez, Eileen Collins, Franklin Chang-Diaz, and Ed Lu.

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