Astronaut Leland Melvin was told he could bring his family to his NASA photoshoot. So he did – they just happened to be his two rescue dogs (which he had to sneak into the facility). The result is an epic astronaut photo.
Who is Leland Melvin?
Leland Melvin was a NASA astronaut and current dog lover. He was a member of the 24th shuttle mission to the International Space Station which helped deliver and install the European Space Agency’s Columbus Laboratory.
But Leland Melvin’s got quite a history aside from that. He’s also the only person drafted into the National Football League to have flown in space!
Melvin has a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and a Master’s degree in materials science engineering and played for the Detroit Lions. After his football career, he worked at NASA’s Langley Research Center “in the area of nondestructive testing creating optical fiber sensors for measuring damage in aerospace vehicles, resulting in publications in numerous scientific journals.”
He has also served as head of NASA Education and co-chair of the White House’s Federal Coordination in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (S.T.E.M.) Education Task Force, the United States representative and chair of the International Space Education Board (ISEB), and won the NFL Players Association “Award of Excellence.”
Oh, and he’s even been a celebrity judge on Top Chef and appeared on an episode of Cesar Milian’s The Dog Whisperer with his dog Jake.
Sneaking dogs into NASA
According to the American Kennel Club: “The world got to know [Leland Melvin] as the ‘coolest astronaut in the galaxy’ through an iconic 2009 photo that, thanks to the web, became nearly as famous as Betty Grable’s World War II pinup poster. No one could forget Melvin’s official NASA portrait, known as the ‘Astro Dog’ shot.”
Blaring his stereo to drown out their barking and prepared with 100 milkbones to distract the pups so no one notices they were on site, Melvin drove onto the Johnson Space Center in Houston site for his official photo with his two dogs, Jake and Scout.
Dogs weren’t allowed on site, so he had to hide them all day, only letting them out when the photographer came in to start snapping photos. — WTF fun facts