Astronaut at a Glance: Christopher Cassidy

Astronaut at a Glance: Christopher Cassidy


Next to strapping yourself into
a rocket, it’s the next best thing to high-five your buddy,
clip his seat belt, close the door, and then watch
them blast off. So I grew up in a town in
southern Maine — small town called York, Maine. Went to high school there. And then from there went on to
the Naval Academy with a brief one-year stop at the Naval
Academy Prep School in Newport, Rhode Island. Turns out that was
the greatest thing that ever happened to me because I matured
tremendously, took the same courses that I took my freshman
year at the Naval Academy, and really it set me up for success
going into the Naval Academy. You know, I really had a good
time at the Naval Academy. The first year is a drag,
rigorous academics, but piled on top of that you have to know
all this military knowledge, you have to run around and
call everybody sir. But there’s so many funny
stories that come out of it. And my best friends that I have
in life today are from that year. I had been in the SEAL teams
for about four years, around the same time I met Bill Shepherd,
who was an astronaut here — Navy SEAL; become an astronaut;
was a commander of the first space station crew. And in talking to him, I
realized, “Hey, my background is kind of similar to his. Maybe I could try to become an
astronaut also.” And realized that he went to MIT in the ocean
engineering department, and maybe I could pursue
something similar. Well, I was driving underwater
vehicles in the SEAL teams. And just so happened one of
the professors in the ocean engineering department at MIT
was named John Leonard was studying underwater
vehicle navigation. And that’s what I was — I was
a navigator of an underwater vehicle in the SEAL teams. So it seemed to me like it made
perfect sense and the stars were aligning. I came in the class of 2004. Those first couple of years
you’re an astronaut candidate, not really eligible to be
assigned to anything but just learning the ropes of
how to be an astronaut. Came out of that program 2006,
spent a couple years doing various jobs. I supported Expedition 15, I
think it was, and worked as CAPCOM for a while before I was
assigned to be part of the crew of STS-127. And we launched in
the summer of 2009. So back up about a year and a
half from that is when we began training all here in Houston. Our main role was to bring up
the exposed facility that’s outside on the Japanese portion
of the space station, along with some batteries for the
Port 6 solar array. And then probably about 2010
or ’11 I started training for Expedition 35, 36. And long — much longer training
process, two and a half years. Mostly because half your time’s
in Russia or some other country, Japan or German. And Russian language is a
huge part of that training. So we spent a lot of time in
the classroom one-on-one with an instructor, and then ultimately
launched from Baikonur, and spent six months up there. It was fantastic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *