NASA Astronaut Captain Chris Cassidy to Keynote

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Capt. Chris Cassidy has worked in some of the most dangerous environments on Earth—and even in orbit around Earth. A 1993 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Cassidy’s 11 years as a Navy SEAL included deployment to Afghanistan two weeks after Sept. 11, 2001. His leadership during his Afghanistan service earned him two Bronze Star Medals, which the U.S. military awards for heroic or meritorious service. As a SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) platoon commander based in Norfolk, Virginia, he spent more than 200 total hours underwater as a pilot, navigator, and mission commander of a two-person SDV, a submersible launched from a submarine to transport SEALs to missions.

Cassidy was selected as a NASA astronaut in 2004; in 2009, he became the 500th person in history to fly into space. Across three missions between 2009 and 2020, Cassidy assisted in the delivery and installation of parts of the International Space Station, was part of the first crew to complete a 6-hour expedited docking procedure, and contributed to hundreds of scientific experiments. He was NASA’s chief astronaut from 2015–2017; in this role, his responsibilities included flight assignments, mission preparation, and on-orbit support of U.S. members of the ISS crew. Retired from NASA in October 2020, Cassidy completed 10 spacewalks, nearly 55 hours of spacewalk time, and 378 days in space throughout his career.

Working in space is hazardous: on his 2013 ISS mission, Cassidy and Thomas Marshburn, another U.S. crewmember, performed an unplanned spacewalk to replace a pump controller box suspected of leaking ammonia coolant. Later in the same mission, Cassidy attempted another spacewalk with Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano but chose to turn back early when Parmitano’s helmet began filling with coolant water, putting him in danger of drowning. Safely navigating situations such as these requires snap decision-making, effective leadership, consideration of his crewmates, and quick, accurate risk assessment.

While the majority of AIHce EXP attendees will not experience either warzone environments or low Earth orbit, they do share Cassidy’s vocation to lead others to safety. Attendees of AIHce EXP 2022 will benefit from attending Cassidy’s opening keynote session through discussion of the leadership and risk assessment lessons he learned in the Navy and with NASA.

For more information, read Cassidy’s official NASA astronaut biography.

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