Maine native Christopher Cassidy, a Navy captain and former SEAL, was recently promoted to the most senior leadership position for active astronauts at NASA. As chief of the Astronaut Office, he’ll oversee the operations and crew assignments for future missions in space.
BDN reporter Seth Koenig in 2013 talked with Cassidy about sweaty shirts in spaceflight, how tasty Stonewall Kitchen’s jam is in space, and how missions are kind of like camping.
Here are some facts you should know about Cassidy:
1. During his career, he’s spent 182 days in space. That’s 26 weeks of weightlessness.
2. He graduated — with honors, even — Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, one of the most grueling courses in the Navy. He was a Navy SEAL commander for 10 years.
3. He’s walked in space. Six times. One walk was in an emergency situation where he had to fix the station’s cooling system.
4. He’s described living in space like camping — including the smell. “We’re working out a lot, and we have sweaty T-shirts around everywhere,” he said.
5. He shaved his head in 2013 to welcome a new (bald) Italian colleague to the International Space Station.
6. Beyond the fact that he’s an astronaut, he’s also a pretty accomplished guy. The former Navy SEAL has been awarded the Bronze Star twice for leading missions during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
7. He was the 500th person to travel into space. That milestone came aboard space shuttle Endeavor in June 2009. He’s only the second Navy SEAL to earn that honor.