Astronaut Leland Melvin
NASA astronaut and former National Football League player, Leland Melvin, will make several public appearances in the Los Angeles area this week to explain NASA's Educator Astronaut program and encourage interest among young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Melvin, co-program manager of the Educator Astronaut program, has traveled the country meeting students and teachers. The program, which began in January, is part of NASA's effort to connect space exploration with the classroom and to inspire the next generation of explorers.

"In addition to showing students just how much fun science learning can be, I believe it is essential to highlight the need for students to develop an academic and career plan of action that includes alternatives, a plan B, if you will," Melvin said. Injured at the cusp of his professional football career, Melvin pursued an alternative passion for engineering that led to his application to and acceptance into NASA's permanent astronaut corps in 1998.

"Leland Melvin's visit to southern California provides NASA yet another great opportunity to reach out to young people to get them excited about science and learning, by meeting a young astronaut who is passionate about the adventure of exploration," said Adena Williams Loston, NASA's associate administrator for education.

For the first time, NASA is recruiting individuals with specific experience and expertise in K-12 education. Through the Educator Astronaut program, NASA plans to send teachers into space as fully trained astronauts. Melvin will encourage students to nominate their teachers for the program. The application deadline is April 30, 2003.

Melvin's Los Angeles schedule:

March 20

11:30 a.m. Pacific Time: Anaheim Convention Center, 800 West Katella Ave., Anaheim: Melvin will talk with participants of the National Society of Black Engineers' 29th Annual Conference about the Educator Astronaut program and NASA education initiatives.

2:30 p.m. Pacific Time: Anaheim Marriott Hotel, 700 West Convention Way, Anaheim: Melvin will present awards at the National Society of Black Engineers' 29th Annual Conference, at the Rocketry Design program workshop, an event targeting high school students with engineering career aspirations.

March 21

10:00 a.m. Pacific Time: Vanguard Learning Center, 13305 S. San Pedro St., Los Angeles: Melvin will meet with students grades 4 through 8 and teachers of science classes from the Compton Unified School District to discuss the Educator Astronaut program.

1:00 p.m. Pacific Time: Elliott Middle School, 2184 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena: Melvin will meet with students, teachers and local public officials to discuss the Educator Astronaut program.

4:00 p.m. Pacific Time: California Science Center, 700 State Drive, Los Angeles: Melvin will meet with Los Angeles area science teachers, students, and the general public to discuss the Educator Astronaut program, and to encourage interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Congresswoman Diane Watson, 33rd Congressional District, will introduce Melvin, and offer her support of the program.

More information about NASA, the Educator Astronaut program, application process, and eligibility requirements is available at

For more information about other NASA education initiatives on the Internet, visit

For more information about NASA on the Internet, visit

News Media Contact

Contacts: JPL/Carolina Martinez (818) 354-9382
NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
Gretchen Cook-Anderson (202) 358-0836