This book is featured in our Shoot for the Moon collection, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. Visit to see more of the best on all things astronautical.
In this revelatory and moving memoir, a former NASA astronaut and NFL wide receiver shares his personal journey from the gridiron to the stars, examining the intersecting roles of community, perseverance and grace that align to create the opportunities for success.
Leland Melvin is the only person in human history to catch a pass in the National Football League and in space. Though his path to the heavens was riddled with setbacks and injury, Leland persevered to reach the stars.
While training with NASA, Melvin suffered a severe injury that left him deaf. Leland was relegated to earthbound assignments, but chose to remain and support his astronaut family. His loyalty paid off. Recovering partial hearing, he earned his eligibility for space travel. He served as mission specialist for two flights aboard the shuttle Atlantis, working on the International Space Station.
In this uplifting memoir, the former NASA astronaut and professional athlete offers an examination of the intersecting role of community, determination, and grace that align to shape our opportunities and outcomes. Chasing Space is not the story of one man, but the story of many men, women, scientists, and mentors who helped him defy the odds and live out an uncommon destiny.
As a chemist, athlete, engineer and space traveler, Leland’s life story is a study in the science of achievement. His personal insights illuminate how grit and grace, are the keys to overcoming adversity and rising to success.
"Henry Ford said, If you think you can or you think you can't, you're right." Leland Melvin proves it. His story inspires me and reminds me of the value of staying positive and pushing through adversity. Chasing Space is uplifting and motivating."--Simon Sinek, Optimist and author of Start with Why and Leaders Eat Last
"Though Melvin refers to his story as one of grit and grace, he does so without a shred of ego... Second chances played a key role in Melvin's ability to overcome obstacles and achieve his many dreams, and he'll have readers wondering how many chances it would take them to do the same."--Booklist
"A story of passion and perseverance told by a humble hero. Insightful and inspiring!"--Angela Duckworth, New York Times bestselling author of Grit
"As a Black woman researcher at NASA in the 1950s, I found Chasing Space very revealing. While I performed the calculations that assisted men on their missions to the moon, I always hoped that in my lifetime that I would see a Black man fly into space. Not only did this book make me feel as if I were on this journey with Leland, through his eyes, it reminded me of how small the planet really is, and therefore, how insignificant our differences as humans are--the kind of issues that kept my own legacy at NASA hidden for so long. Chasing Space is a must read--a flight you shouldn't miss."--Katherine Johnson, former NASA physicist and mathematician, and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom
"For someone of such remarkable achievement, Melvin demonstrates impressive humility and depth of character as he discusses overcoming myriad setbacks... Melvin writes honestly about his mistakes as well as his triumphs, urging readers to pursue their dreams with determination and hard work."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Nerd-kid almost burns down his house with a chemistry experiment gone bad, then grows up and plays for the National Football League, then flies to the International Space Station. That actually happened, and it is quite a story. In Chasing Space, Leland Melvin, the former NASA astronaut, shares this remarkable trajectory of his life. En route he tackles stupendous obstacles with dogged determination, showing you what is indeed possible in life--if you believe."--Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist at the American Museum of Natural History and author of Astrophysics for People in a Hurry