Official Portrait of Astronaut Leland Melvin Is Best in NASA History

astronaut leland melvin picture with dogs

Okay, so maybe that title is a little bit on the superlative side, but I think most dog lovers will agree that the official NASA portrait of astronaut Leland Melvin is extra special.

Back when he was an astronaut, Melvin sneaked his two dogs, Jack and Scout, into the studio for his photo shoot. The portrait, discovered yesterday by journalist Adam Aton, went viral after he shared it on Twitter.

Melvin is multi-talented: He is the only astronaut to have played for the NFL. In 1986, he was drafted as a wide receiver by the Detroit Lions, and later played with the Dallas Cowboys. After a hamstring injury ended his football career, he started working for NASA in 1989.

While he was 25 feet under water, participating in training to perform spacewalks, Melvin could not hear the test director on his headset. It turned out he had injured his ears and become deaf. He underwent emergency surgery, which partially restored his hearing. Melvin was able to overcome this hurdle and went on to log more than 565 space hours, helping to build the International Space Station.

But wait, there’s more! Melvin was appointed head of NASA Education and helped develop the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education plan. He’s currently the host of the Lifetime series, “Child Genius,” which features gifted children preparing for a national intelligence competition.

According to his website, Melvin “uses his life story as an athlete, astronaut, scientist, engineer, photographer and musician to help inspire the next generation of explorers to pursue Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics (S.T.E.A.M.) careers.”

Wow. And he’s a devoted dog dad.

Photo via Twitter

Laura Goldman

I am a freelance writer and lifelong dog lover. For five years, I was a staff writer for i Love Dogs. When that site shut down, I started this blog...because I STILL Love Dogs!