Grew up in York, Maine. Educated Annapolis; MIT. US Navy officer.
Official NASA Biography - May 2004
Chris Cassidy, Mission Specialist
BORN: Salem, Massachusetts
EDUCATION: BS, Mathematics, U.S. Naval Academy, 1993; MS, Ocean Engineering, MIT, 2000
CURRENT JOB: Commander, Naval Special Warfare Task Unit, Afghanistan, Senior SEAL in Afghanistan
QUICK FACT: Has done two tours of duty in Afghanistan
QUOTE: "I hope to be the next guy on the moon."
Navy SEAL Chris Cassidy had just returned from a second tour in Afghanistan when he got word that his next mission could take him much, much farther away.
"I hope to be the next guy on the moon," Cassidy says.
Cassidy has been selected to begin astronaut training this summer as a mission specialist at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. It is an opportunity he has worked toward for years, after hearing about the achievements of a fellow SEAL.
"I heard about Bill Shepherd, and I found his story motivating," Cassidy said of the first International Space Station commander. "I contacted him and asked him what sort of things I should do to prepare myself to be an astronaut."
Among the things he says Shepherd recommended was that he go back to school. Already armed with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy, Cassidy applied to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT. He eventually earned a Master's degree there in Ocean Engineering.
Cassidy grew up in York, Maine, where he played basketball at York High School. He also attended the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, R.I. His Navy career has taken him across the country and around the world, from Norfolk, Va. on the east coast to San Diego, Calif. on the west. After the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, the Navy sent him to Afghanistan.
His platoon was deployed to fight in the war against terrorism shortly after September 11. He says that was a "nerve-wracking" time for his family. During his second Afghan tour, he took on a greater leadership role and was involved heavily in planning. Cassidy, now a lieutenant commander in the Navy, says he is "just happy to come home in one piece."
Cassidy, 34, is married and has three children, all of whom, he says, are excited to move to Houston. Their dad is enthusiastic, too. Cassidy is "more excited than ever" by the new Vision for Space Exploration and is thrilled at the timing of his selection. By the time NASA is ready to return humans to the moon, he says, he'll be ready.
"I was attracted to NASA for the mystique of traveling into space," he says. "I want to contribute to the agency's mission in any way I can."
Birth Place: Salem, Massachusetts.
Spaceflights: 1 .
Total time in space: 15.70 days.
Mission Specialists: Bachelor's degree in engineering, biological science, physical science or mathematics and minimum three years of related experience or an advanced degree. Vision minimum 20/150 uncorrected, correctable to 20/20. Maximum sitting blood pressure of 140/90. Height between 150 and 193 cm.. Due to a surplus of astronauts and a dearth of missions, NASA cancelled the planned 2002 astronaut selection. The next call for applications was made in May 2003, with a due date of 1 July. 'Educator astronauts' were especially requested, and 1100 applications were received in this category. The final selection was two pilots and nine mission specialists; nine men and two women. Given the drastic reduction if shuttle flights and ISS crew size planned for the post-Columbia disaster period, the chances for astronauts from this group flying in the next decade seemed slim indeed. Also training in this group were three NASDA astronauts from Japan.