Summer Lee Hosts NASA’s Pam Melroy for Pittsburgh Space Tour meeting with Middle School Robotics Students, Headlining Keystone Space District Conference, Touring Astrobotic 

Jun 02, 2023
Press

**For Immediate Release**

 Contact: Emilia.Rowland@mail.house.gov 330.212.2065

Summer Lee Hosts NASA’s Pam Melroy for Pittsburgh Space Tour meeting with Middle School Robotics Students, Headlining Keystone Space District Conference, Touring Astrobotic 

(Pittsburgh, PA) Today, US Congresswoman Summer Lee (PA-12) hosted NASA Deputy Administrator, Pam Melroy for a three-stop Pittsburgh Space Tour. Lee, who serves on the House Space, Science, and Technology Committee, has worked tirelessly to deliver  as many federal dollars as possible in investments in STEM innovation, education, research, development, and job creation, while working to close the representation gap and make sure no one is left behind by liesing between the region’s industry cluster, communities, and federal agencies. 

NASA Deputy Administrator Melroy is one of only two women to command a space shuttle and has logged more than 38 days (924 hours) in space, working to build the International Space Station. From her time in the US Air Force to NASA. a co-pilot, aircraft commander, instructor pilot, and test pilot, she has logged more than 6,000 flight hours in more than 50 different aircraft.

Kicking off their first stop of the day, Lee and Deputy Administrator Melroy met with middle school students and teachers at Environmental Charter Middle School, touring the Robotics classroom, learning about students’ interests and answering questions about education, training, and careers in space and in STEM more broadly. 

This April, the Environmental Charter School’s (ECS’s) Robotics team became one of four middle school teams in Western Pennsylvania to qualify for the VEX IQ World Championship.

Click here to view video and photos from Summer’s NASA meeting with Middle School Students. 

[separate video folder here]

 

Next, Lee and Melroy headed to Day 2 of the Keystone Space Collaborative Conference to deliver keynote remarks discussing the establishment of the Keystone Space and Defense Innovation District in Pittsburgh’s North Side. Industry Leaders From Astrobotic, Blue Origin along with electeds and officials From PA/WV/OH, DOD, NASA joined as well. 

Lee spoke about how the new Space innovation district will act as a bridge that connects the North Side, Manchester and Chateau areas through education, space tech development and economic opportunity, much like the $1.4 million ‘Reconnecting Communities’ Infrastructure grant she recently helped deliver with Senator Casey will help right the wrongs of economic redlining and disinvestment by bringing investments in business, good paying jobs, education, and training to the previously disconnected communities.

Please find a full transcript below:

Congresswoman Lee said,  “Pittsburgh is going to space, y’all! And from the incredible work that is occurring in Astrobotic to our middle schoolers making it to the world Robotics competitions, I couldn’t be more excited for our region and its future possibilities in the emerging space economy. Serving on the Science Space and Technology Committee, I have had the  unique opportunity to serve as a liaison between our regional industry cluster, our community, and agencies back in Washington D.C., where I am fighting to deliver as many federal dollars as possible to our region. Whether for our research institutions, our businesses, our STEAM educators, our job training providers or our job creators, I am working every day on this committee to help Pittsburgh’s innovation economy work for all of us.”

Finally, Lee and Melroy will end the day with a tour of Astrobotic, an employee owned and Pittsburgh based company with the largest private facility in the world dedicated to lunar logistics, where the incredible innovators and engineers are working so hard to send Pittsburgh to space, make Peregrine and all future missions a success, and help close the representation gap in STEM. 

Full transcript of Lee’s remarks: 

Thank you all for having me here today!  As a proud daughter of the Mon Valley and member of the House Science, Space, and Technology committee in Congress, I am overjoyed that we are here today talking about the bright future Western PA has in store as a hub for technology, research, and innovation. Pittsburgh is going to space, y’all! And from the incredible work that is occurring in Astrobotic to the exercises kids are doing in the robotics classrooms of our district, I couldn’t be more excited for our region and its future possibilities in the emerging space economy.

Now, before I introduce our phenomenal NASA Deputy Administrator, former astronaut Pam Melroy, who came all the way out here to be with us and who you probably want to hear from more than me, I do want to take a moment to thank Andrea Laskowski and Blue Origin for hosting this lunch keynote. I am thrilled for the partnership that is emerging between Blue Origin and Astrobotic around the SLD human lander project, and I’m excited for the regional growth potential in connecting Blue Origin, the supply chain for the space economy, and our own innovation hub here on the North Side. Not long from now, Astrobotic and Pittsburgh will look to continue the successful work of the Peregrine mission all the way through to Artemis, when Blue Origin and Astrobotic working in tandem with NASA, will allow us to see American astronauts on the moon once more. What an exciting prospect, and an exciting partnership, so thank you Andrea and Blue Origin.

Now, I’d want to talk with y’all a little about how the work you’re doing fuels my work in Congress.

Serving on the Science Space and Technology Committee – which, as a self-proclaimed technophobe, I was afraid to join initially – I have had the  unique opportunity to serve as a liaison between our regional industry cluster, our community, and agencies back in Washington D.C., where I am fighting to deliver as many federal dollars as possible to our region. Whether for our research institutions, our businesses, our STEAM educators, our job training providers or our job creators, I am working every day on this committee to help create a climate that can benefit ALL of us

Since being on SST, I have been able to tour Astrobotic and meet the incredible innovators and engineers there working so hard to make Peregrine and all future missions a success. And while I was there, we were able to discuss their role as being a voice for equity and representation, and that there can be no innovation without diversity of perspectives. Being on SST, and following in the footsteps of the illustrious Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, I take the need to close the representation gap in science and technology jobs seriously, and I’m working to open doors that are too often closed to Black, brown, and marginalized, working class communities who’ve been left behind by the innovation booms of the past. 

Since my first week in office, I’ve been laser focused on meeting as many of you as possible, learning about the work you do, and striving to connect as many resources as I can to bring home investments in innovation, education, research, development, and job creation, working to make sure no one in our community is left behind. And while it is hard to top standing just on the other side of the glass from a freaking moon lander, there are other partners in addition to Astrobotic that are pushing our innovation economy forward that get me excited for my region’s future economic potential. 

From meeting the creators of new green battery technology at EOS batteries in Turtle Creek and working to connect them with the Department of Energy on ways to expand their business, to meeting with the incredible team at AFWERX (“affworks”) to learn about their mission to innovate and support technologies vital to national security and the future, to hearing about the powerful semiconductors necessary to run green infrastructure created right in our backyard in Westmoreland County by Power-Ex, and working to support their application for dollars through the CHIPS Act, my office and I have engaged with so many  partners in technology and stand with them as an advocate for our region’s economic growth and resiliency. 

Now, with more federal funding avenues available to our municipal, state and business partners than ever, my office and I are ready to assist in winning as many of these as is possible for our region. 

Whether as a Presidentially-designated Workforce Hub, or a Build Back Better Winner, or an Economic Development Agency approved Tech Hub, Pittsburgh and our region are emerging as a worthy place for federal investment, and my team and I will continue to fight to keep it that way…

And there is one other point I want to make about our drive to help the region grow and thrive: and that is one of our responsibility that it be done equitably, and with community at the table. Nowhere has this been more on display than in the neighborhoods where Astrobotic has located itself: Manchester and Chateau on Pittsburgh’s North Side. 

As many of y’all know, Senator Casey and I helped recently to deliver the Reconnecting Communities Grant to Manchester Citizens Corporation and the City of Pittsburgh, to help address many of the wrongs of economic redlining that these communities have faced historically. I believe that we have an obligation to lift up our neighbors that for far too long have been left out of development, and that’s what this grant will work to do as long as all of us, developers, technology companies, municipal departments, community stakeholders, and elected officials, commit ourselves to both equity in the process, and opportunity in the execution of the vision.

You know, it was wonderful earlier today, when Deputy Administrator Melroy and I got to meet and hear from middle school kids at the Environmental Charter School here in Pittsburgh. We toured a robotics classroom, heard about their trip to compete in a national robotics competition last month, and saw the awe and wonder in their eyes when they got to hear from a real life astronaut. And it is the very job of the responsible and equitable development that we all must strive for here, and that is part of what I fight for every day as your Congresswoman, to catalyze that awe and wonder for what seems impossible, to the joy and pride of what is possible: an economy that doesn’t leave Black, and brown and marginalized people behind, that values the potential of all, regardless of race or background or economic status, that seeks to educate and expand opportunity in our new innovation economy to local communities and not just the privileged, and that protects and uplifts the vulnerable even as it touches the stars.

There’s so much brilliance and talent ready to be harnessed right here in western Pennsylvania. I saw it in that robotics classroom today. I see it in communities across my district. I see it in the audience here today. I stand ready and willing to help our partners in DC continue to see it here too, and to fight like hell to make those that have been made to be invisible in the past, to be seen and to be visible in the shared prosperity of the future.

And speaking of brilliance and talent, I am extremely honored and privileged myself to introduce NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy. Her biography is a litany of incredible accomplishments, and I’d love to point out just a few:

  • As a co-pilot, aircraft commander, instructor pilot, and test pilot, she logged more than 6,000 flight hours in more than 50 different aircraft from the air force to NASA
  • One of only two women to command a space shuttle, she has logged more than 38 days (924 hours) in space. She served as pilot on two flights in 2000 and 2002, and was the mission commander on a third in 2007. All three of her missions were assembly missions to build the International Space Station.

Please join me in welcoming our keynote speaker, NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy!

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