From the 50-Yard Line to Low-Earth Orbit

"I was a wide receiver. If you think about the relationship between a wide receiver and a quarterback -- you are in this stadium with 60,000 people and everyone is screaming and the defense is changing on you so you have to use nonverbal communication," he said. "The crew on the flight deck, the four of us, the pilot, I am MS [mission specialist] one and MS two -- we sometimes have to communicate nonverbally just like a wide receiver and a quarterback to get the job done."

"You only have eight-and-a-half minutes to get to space and you are trying to keep all these, in our training, keep all these relay horrendous malfunctions from taking you out," he explained. "I think it is that communication, that esprit de corps -- that camaraderie, playing football -- it is a direct analog."

What is most important to Melvin is reaching children, helping them realize that what he did, they can do as well.

"When children can see the types of great and wonderful and huge and magnificent projects that we do, it is not about the project," he said. "It is about the humans that are actually going out there and taking those steps and taking those strides and being brave and trying to make things happen on a grand scale for mankind."

Football is still a passion for Melvin. He expects the flight controllers in Mission Control to pass on scores while he is on orbit. Who is he rooting for?

"The underdog. The underdog coming down in the last minute and winning the game."

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