Press Release

Veteran NASA Astronauts Michael Lopez-Alegria, Pamela Melroy and Scott Kelly Inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame® at Kennedy Space Center

By SpaceRef Editor
November 15, 2021
Filed under ,

Veteran NASA astronauts Michael Lopez-Alegria, vice president of business development for Axiom Space, Pamela Melroy, NASA deputy administrator, and Scott Kelly were inducted today into the prestigious United States Astronaut Hall of Fame – marking the 19th class of honorees to join this esteemed society.

The ceremony was held at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, beneath the iconic space shuttle Atlantis. Lopez-Alegria, Melroy and Kelly were honored for their outstanding accomplishments in furthering NASA’s mission of exploration and discovery. Their induction brings the total number of astronauts in the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame to 102.

Providing remarks to officially welcome the astronauts to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame were veteran astronaut and 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Brian Duffy, veteran astronaut Susan Helms, Bill Nelson, NASA administrator,  Robert Cabana, associate administrator, NASA, Curt Brown, board chairman of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation and Therrin Protze, chief operating officer of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. More than 15 fellow veteran astronauts attended the ceremony which was delayed from 2020 due to the pandemic, including Charlie Bolden, Eileen Collins and John Grunsfeld among others. Many of the astronauts in attendance also have been inducted into the hall of fame.

“With the return of crewed missions to space – and the promise of more on the horizon – it is important to recognize those who paved the way for the new era of space exploration,” said Protze, prior to the induction ceremony. “Without the dedication and commitment of pioneers like Cap. Lopez-Alegria, Col. Melroy and Capt. Kelly we would not be at the precipice of this new phase of discovery.”

Lopez-Alegria, Melroy and Kelly all have distinguished careers, centered around their love of space and science:

Capt. Michael E. Lopez-Alegria, STS-73, STS-92, STS-113, Expedition 14

Michael E. Lopez-Alegria has more than 35 years of aviation and space experience with the U.S. Navy and NASA in a variety of roles including naval aviator, engineering test pilot and program manager and NASA astronaut.

He has completed four NASA space flights, including space shuttle missions STS-73, STS-92, and STS-113, and served as commander of ISS Expedition 14 (flying to and from the ISS aboard Soyuz TMA-9). He holds NASA records for most Extravehicular Activities (EVA) (aka spacewalks) – 10, as well as cumulative EVA time of 67 hours and 40 minutes.

Lopez-Alegria is the former president of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, where he served as spokesman, thought leader and advocate with the U.S. Congress and pertinent executive agencies, and advocated for favorable public policy on behalf of the commercial spaceflight industry. Currently, he is an independent consultant to traditional and commercial space companies and serves on several advisory boards and committees of public and private institutions, including the Human Exploration and Operations Committee of the NASA Advisory Council and the Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee to the FAA. Lopez-Alegria is the chairman of ASTM International’s Committee on Commercial Spaceflight and past-president of the Association of Space Explorers, an international professional and educational organization of current and former astronauts. 

Col. Pamela A. Melroy, STS-92, STS-112, STS-120

Pamela A. Melroy was sworn in as the NASA Deputy Administrator on June 21, 2021. As Deputy Administrator, Melroy performs the duties and exercises the powers delegated by the Administrator, while assisting with final agency decisions. In the absence of the Administrator, Melroy is charged with performing all necessary functions to govern NASA operations.

A long-time aerospace executive with government and industry experience – across civil, commercial, and national security space – Melroy also is a retired Air Force test pilot and former NASA astronaut and Space Shuttle commander.

She has logged more than 6,000 hours flight time in more than 50 different aircraft and was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in March 1995. She flew three missions in space: as Space Shuttle pilot during STS-92 in 2000 and STS-112 in 2002, and as Space Shuttle Commander during STS-120 in 2007. All three missions were assembly missions to build the International Space Station. She is one of only two women to command the Space Shuttle and has logged more than 38 days in space. Melroy served in a variety of roles in the Astronaut Office to include astronaut launch and landing support, CAPCOM, the crew module lead for the Columbia Reconstruction Team, and as deputy project manager for the Columbia crew survival investigation team. 

Melroy retired from the Air Force in 2007, and left NASA in August 2009 – before returning to the agency earlier this year. After her initial role with NASA, she served as Deputy Program manager for the Lockheed Martin Orion Space Exploration Initiatives program and as Director of Field Operations and acting Deputy Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation at the Federal Aviation Administration. She went on to serve as Deputy Director, Tactical Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) where she executed a large air and space technology development portfolio.

Capt. Scott Kelly, STS-103, STS-118, Expedition 25/26, Expedition 43/44/45/46

Scott Kelly is a retired American astronaut and United States Navy Captain, U.S. spaceflight record holder and an experienced test pilot having logged more than 15,000 hours of flight time in more than 40 different aircraft and spacecraft. A former fighter pilot, Kelly flew the F-14 Tomcat aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Kelly was selected by NASA as an astronaut in 1996. A veteran of four space flights, he piloted Space Shuttle Discovery to the Hubble space telescope in 1999 and, subsequently, commanded Space Shuttle Endeavor on a mission to the International Space Station in 2007. His long-duration space flight experience includes two flights on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, launching and landing from Kazakhstan andtwo stays aboard the International Space Station as commander, the first a 159-day mission in 2010-2011 followed by his recorded-breaking 340-day mission to the ISS in 2015. During his yearlong mission, known worldwide as the “Year In Space,” he conducted three spacewalks before returning home in March 2016. Kelly has traveled more than 200 million miles, which is more than twice the distance to the Sun, and has orbited the Earth more than 8,300 times. Kelly has received many awards and honors, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross. He was on the cover of TIME Magazine in December 2014 and was named one of its 100 Most Influential People in 2015. Kelly also was recognized at the 2015 State of the Union Address by United States President Barrack Obama.

Kelly is a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a member of the Association of Space Explorers. Kelly was appointed Champion for Space by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs. As Champion for Space, Kelly helps raise awareness of UNOOSA’s activities.

He is a highly sought after public speaker who exemplifies leadershipwhile testing the limits of the human spirit and endurance. In 2016 he published a New York Times bestseller memoir Endurance and a children’s picture book with Alfred A. Knopf of Penguin Random House LLC on his extraordinary career and life from humble beginnings. More recently he published Infinite Wonder – a collection of extraordinary images he photographed aboard ISS, also a New York Times bestseller.

Kelly is married to Amiko (née Kauderer) a former NASA public affairs officer and has two children, Samantha and Charlie from a previous marriage. His identical twin brother Mark, is also a former NASA astronaut.

The U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame was spearheaded more than 30 years ago by the six surviving Mercury 7 astronauts. In November 2016, a new U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame opened at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, as part of the Heroes & Legends attraction.

Due to the delayed 2020 induction, there will not be a 2021 class of inductees.

U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame Induction Process and Eligibility

Each year, inductees are selected by a committee of Hall of Fame astronauts, former NASA officials, flight directors, historians and journalists. The process is administered by the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation. To be eligible, an astronaut must have made his or her first flight at least 17 years before the induction. Candidates must be a U.S. citizen and a NASA-trained commander, pilot or mission specialist who has orbited the earth at least once.

About Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex brings to life the epic story of the U.S. space program, offering a full day or more of fun, inspiration and educational activities. Currently open with limited capacity due to COVID-19, included with admission are Heroes & Legends, featuring the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame®, presented by Boeing, Space Shuttle Atlantis®, Journey To Mars: Explorers Wanted, space films, the Rocket Garden, the all-new Planet Play and the Apollo/Saturn V Center. Only 45 minutes from Orlando, Fla., Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is open daily from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.  Admission is $57 + tax for adults and $47 + tax for children ages 3 – 11. For more information, call 877-313-2610 or visit

Twitter: @ExploreSpaceKSC


SpaceRef staff editor.