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Black Astronauts Conquering the Final Frontier

BlackAmericaWeb.com | , Jackie Jones | 11/23/2009, midnight

Orthopedic surgeon Robert Satcher put his considerable skills to work in space, repairing a robotic arm on NASA€s International Space Station. Colleague Randolph Bresnik told Satcher his work was €the highest recorded orthopedic surgery €" ever."

And there was another first. Satcher is the first orthopedic surgeon in space. A much honored scholar and researcher, Satcher was selected by NASA in 2004 for the space program and completed astronaut candidate training in 2006.

The mission specialist is one of six crew members on a mission to the International Space Station that will feature three space walks and bring home fellow astronaut Nicole Scott. Before joining NASA, Satcher was an assistant professor at The Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.
He also held an appointment as an attending physician in orthopaedic surgery at Children€s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, specializing in Musculoskeletal Oncology; and an adjunct appointment in the Biomedical Engineering Department at Northeastern University School of Engineering.

Satcher also completed numerous medical missions for outreach care to underserved areas in Nicaraugua, Venezuala, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Gabon.

Closer to home, Satcher has been active in numerous community organizations including Big Brother for Youth at Risk Counseling Program, Department of Corrections, San Francisco, California; Tutor for Black Student's Union Tutorial Program, MIT; National Society of Black Engineers; American Institute of Chemical Engineering; Supervising Adult for Cub Scout Camp for Boys, Nashville, Tennessee; Proctor for Freshman Dormitory at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Lay Episcopal Minister (primary responsibility is visiting sick and shut in members of church) at St. Edmund€s Episcopal Church, Chicago, Illinois and at St. James Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas.

Joining Satcher on this trip is fellow mission specialist Leland Melvin, who is an expert in fiber optics and aerospace structures and materials, especially in the development of launch vehicles for space.

The Lynchburg, Virginia native has won eight NASA Outstanding Performance Awards, two NASA Superior Accomplishment Awards and the key to the City of Lynchburg. An avid sports enthusiastic and college athlete, Melvin was an NCAA Division I Academic All-American and is a University of Richmond Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee. He was chosen by the Detroit Lions in the 11th round of the 1986 NFL college draft, and he also participated in the Toronto Argonauts and Dallas Cowboys football training camps.

Melvin, who joined the astronaut training in August 1998, has served the Astronaut Office Space Station Operations Branch, the Education Department at NASA Headquarters, Washington, D.C, and the Robotics Branch of the Astronaut Office. As co-manager of NASA's Educator Astronaut Program, Melvin traveled across the country, educating thousands of students and teachers about space exploration and encouraging them to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

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