VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (NNS) -- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced May 6 that Lt. Cmdr. Chris Cassidy, a Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, and Land) assigned to a locally based SEAL Team, was selected for NASA's Astronaut Program.
The announcement was made during a Space Day ceremony hosted at the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.
Cassidy will join a diverse group of pilots, engineers and educators as "The Next Generation of Explorers," NASA's 2004 Astronaut Candidate Class. Cassidy has been selected to begin astronaut training this summer as a mission specialist at NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston.
"I always had an interest in astronauts," Cassidy said but it wasn't until he heard about another astronaut -- Capt. Bill Shepherd, a Navy SEAL himself, that his imagination was stirred and realized that he too had the possibility of going into space.
"I followed Capt. Shepherd's career and was inspired by him to be an astronaut," Cassidy said. Shepherd, like Cassidy, graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and served with Virginia Beach-based SEAL Teams and Special Boat Team 20. Shepherd was the commander of the first Space Station expedition.
Cassidy received the news of his selection to the astronaut program in late April, just days after returning from his second deployment in support of the global war on terrorism.
He was awarded the Bronze Star after his first deployment for his efforts in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom, as his platoon was sent forward shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in New York and at the Pentagon.
As he begins making preparations to start a new career, Cassidy said he feels honored to have had the opportunity to serve as a SEAL and alongside some of the best warriors in the world. "I am going to miss the camaraderie that exists within the SEAL community. I will miss serving with these guys," he said.
Moving from an elite Special Forces group, he now looks forward to joining an elite group dedicated to the exploration of space.
"This will be a whole new adventure - a whole new unknown. I am excited about the chance to travel in space," Cassidy commented about joining NASA.
He will report for training to the JSC June 14. Other astronaut candidates, like Cassidy, who do not have previous flight experience in high performance aircraft, will report to JSC and then travel to Florida for water survival training and flight training at Naval Air Station, Pensacola.
Once the new astronauts are settled in Houston, they will begin the intensive training that will become the norm for their astronaut career. Initially, they will undergo land survival training, T-38 jet ground and flight training, Shuttle Orbiter systems training, Space Station systems training, science and engineering briefings, and orientation tours at all NASA centers, including the Kennedy Space Center and Marshall Space Flight Center. Cassidy will go through this training process for approximately 18 months, going from astronaut candidate to full fledged astronaut.
Cassidy is from York, Maine. He graduated from the US. Naval Academy in 1993 and Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL School in April 1994 as part of class 192. He holds a Master's Degree in Ocean Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
For more information on Naval Special Warfare, visit www.seal.navy.mil.
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