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Chris Cassidy - Navy Seal/Astronaut Part 2

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Chris Cassidy

Astronaut/Navy Seal

Think you are cool? Chris Cassidy, a retired US Navy Seal and decorated NASA astronaut wins the coolest life story award. Cassidy details his involvement with the US Navy SEALS followed by his three trips to space. From his time in the Space Shuttle, the Soyuz, and on the ISS, Cassidy spent over a year in space recording ten space walks, Cassidy was the subject of a Disney documentary of his mission. He now leads the construction and launch of the new Medal of Honor Museum in Arlington Texas. Check out this fascinating and remarkable life. Go Space!

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Episode Transcription: 

roxo media house
0:15
welcome back to fortitude everyone JW Wilson brinton Payne here with part two of Chris Cassidy interview
0:22
um the first part if you haven’t seen it uh don’t watch this one first because the first part’s as good as the second
0:27
part some might say uh welcome back to the show Chris thank you for uh being back here again we just finished up part
0:35
one you had decided you didn’t become uh when accepted into astronaut school at
0:40
Nasa starting there um the call to the call you got the
0:45
invitation to join NASA after you applied how did that how did that go
0:50
down in the family your life well it was interesting I was actually deployed to Afghanistan well let me back up
0:57
um when when NASA has an astronaut class a call for applications
1:04
everybody submits their application it gets whittled down to to
1:09
um about 120 people or so that they bring to Houston for a week-long interview this is when I was there it’s
1:16
the model is slightly different now but a week-long interview and um and they can’t do ever all those
1:23
weeks at once and they’re they’re broken up so I was I got interviewed in in September
1:29
and um and the very next week I was deployed to Afghanistan in the in the selection office knew that and they said
1:35
okay well we’ll call you if we need anything so I did the whole six months of my second tour in Afghanistan
1:41
kind of anticipating am I going to hear anything or not and they don’t really
1:46
give you any feedback and you really don’t know if you’re advancing through the process until
1:52
um the little old lady neighbor in our house in Norfolk Virginia
1:58
saw my uh my wife mowing the lawn and she walked out and said some guys from
2:04
the FBI were here asking about Chris and she told me that and we both figured out
2:10
Ah that’s they’re doing a background investigation so at least I’m getting a
2:15
little more advanced in the process and and so I in April so September all the
2:21
way till April and then I got up because I knew I was really hard to get in touch with in Afghanistan I got an email that
2:27
said hey please call the selection office on Monday at noon well as luck would have it I was
2:34
returning to America that weekend and so Monday at noon I was actually in my
2:40
house in in Houston in in Virginia and for whatever reason the phone rang
2:46
there and I was supposed to call them and we’re you know you’re it’s one of these deals like Ferris Bueller you’re watching the clock tick tick minutes
2:53
going backwards and like a minute before noon they called our phone our home
2:58
phone and I’m like you get it no you get it you get it okay I answered it and the
3:04
gouge is if it’s the head of HR making the call you’re not going to be an
3:09
astronaut if it’s the chief astronauts voice you hear there’s a good chance he’s calling to
3:14
tell you you’re going to be an astronaut and who told you that was that Shepherd or it’s kind of like once you get in the
3:21
process you hear different things and you just kind of learn stuff and uh and and he said hi this is Kent romjer who
3:28
was the chief astronaut at the time and I’m like hey Chris we’re just wondering if you’d like to come work for us at Nasa and and
3:34
uh cover my cover the phone I’m like yes yes oh yes sir yeah thank you very much
3:39
yeah uh and that started it right away you know put our house on the market a couple weeks later moved to Texas and um
3:46
and I’ve been been here since then that was the summer of 2004. I assume you’re required to retire from the U.S naval
3:53
Navy department or that’s a bad assumption so the when you when we pick astronauts if you’re a civilian
4:00
you come into the government Civil Service program and that’s how you get your paycheck and and if your active
4:06
duty military like I was it just becomes your duty station so a lot of people like you JW think that that it’s a whole
4:13
separate thing I just transitioned uh my duty Station to Houston I remained
4:19
active duty my paycheck my pension kept you know building up towards pension oh that’s great so yeah very nice so you’re
4:26
you’re now an astronaut uh going through all those things for several years at least uh 2008
4:33
sts-127 the Space Shuttle Endeavor you when when how does that call go that you
4:39
will be flying on this on operation and kind of walk us through that if you don’t yeah can I ask before that like
4:44
training wise yeah what does that look like you show up there and and you’re already in Tip-Top shape because you’re
4:50
just coming off of Afghanistan but what’s the training like right exactly so you’re fine you um
4:56
as I mentioned the astronaut class comes together and it’s it’s a variety of
5:01
people we had military non-military Pilots non-pilots Engineers PhD
5:07
researchers we had three School teachers um some Japanese astronauts in our class
5:12
too so you’re this really disparate group of people with different experiences and different strengths and weaknesses and the job of the initial
5:19
training is to get everybody from that point to a group of space operators you
5:25
know so you know how to fly the space shuttle and live on the space station the first two years you’re an astronaut
5:31
candidate and so you’re not eligible for a mission you’re just going through it’s like graduate school for space and you
5:38
spend half the day in classroom and then the other half of the day in a simulator
5:43
or flying the t-38 which is a jet trainer aircraft down in Ellington Field in Houston
5:49
then eventually you start getting in the large pool there’s a humongous pool
5:55
there where we train for space was called the NBL NBL stands for really
6:00
giant pool neutral buoyancy laboratory think of a high school gymnasium with
6:05
the space station in it filled with water so really large training facility and and you you learn how to operate the
6:12
spacesuit and use the tools that we use on spacewalks so all of that is part of it to include Russian language training
6:19
which was by far the hardest part about Astronaut training for me was was learning to speak Russian I’m still
6:25
lousy at it but uh but it’s every week for all that time and um and then you
6:33
graduate from being a candidate now you’re a full-fledged astronaut
6:38
what that really means is your way that you’re in line and you’re at the back of the line waiting for your turn to be
6:44
called and at some point in the process a couple years later so I my my first launch I got selected in 2004 summer
6:51
2004 my first launch on Endeavor was summer 2009 so there’s five years uh two
6:58
years I was an astronaut candidate one year leading up to 2009 was training
7:03
with my crew so there’s about a two-year period in between there where you’re supporting other missions you’re working
7:09
in Mission Control you’re helping out with whatever jobs are needed and just
7:15
kind of getting more Savvy and more smart about NASA as a whole and what what does it mean to be a good astronaut
7:21
doing a lot of public Outreach and that sort of thing at some point though the chief astronaut
7:27
again the same guy that called me he calls you into the office and and he
7:33
goes hey Chris come see me and you’re you’re thinking did I park in the wrong spot did I do my
7:39
time card you know am I in trouble that pronunciation that Russian pronunciation yeah yeah get that right right did my
7:45
home Russian homework did they wrapped me out for not doing it um but he says Hey we’d like to fly be
7:52
part of the crew of sts-127 and uh and then you get together with your your your buddies and uh and you
7:59
start training and preparing that am I that was my first my second two missions were in a Russian soyuz which is only a
8:05
crew of two and both of those were cosmonauts so entirely different training experience because the shuttle
8:10
we’re all seven of us lived in Houston yeah and we woke up drove to work lived
8:17
in did simulators and training and then went home and uh and then launched from Florida
8:23
and the uh the the the Russian launches
8:28
I would go to go to Moscow for a month or two come home for a month go there
8:33
for six weeks come home for two months so a lot of time back and forth uh with my Russian cosmonaut buddies uh and we
8:41
we can it’s an interesting time of it to talk about that whole Russian Dynamic too and I’d love to talk about it we’ll
8:47
get to that in a second but um so just completely different experiences between the two vehicles and
8:53
the two uh cultures but uh maybe I’ll talk about what it’s like on that first launch yeah yeah or even prior to you’re
9:01
doing all this technical prep right technical prep then you get the call from the cap and it’s like there’s got
9:08
to be something emotionally in you that’s like I’m going to space like that that you kind of get away out of your
9:15
own technical head and say I’m going to space I mean so it’s interesting that
9:20
you say that because even when I got the call and he told me I was part of the crew you’re excited because you’ve
9:27
anticipated this but you still don’t have this I’m going to space feeling yet at least I didn’t it all I don’t say it
9:33
seems fake but you’re just absorbed in your immediate right now what do I got
9:38
to do today what’s what do I’m preparing for next week and you’re very just task
9:44
at hand driven and um kind of like a wedding
9:49
where it’s just really your engagement is sort of just between you and your spouse for a while and then you send
9:56
invitations and the cat’s out of the bag and now everybody’s excited for you and
10:01
everybody’s got anticipation of this exciting day it’s the same analogy you’re training and yourself and you and
10:08
your family and your crewmates families are happy you have barbecues together and all that but at some point you mail
10:15
out invitations to launch to a whole bunch of friends and family and then their excitement starts to build and
10:21
that’s when it started to hit me like oh wow I really am going and then you get to Florida
10:27
uh in in the we we go into quarantine like I I knew what the word quarantine meant long before you guys did yeah
10:34
um are you going to quarantine about 10 days before launch you started in Houston
10:40
five or six days before launch you fly from Houston to Florida and uh uh all the guests lunch guests
10:46
come in about three days before launch and then all of a sudden comes launch day and I remember
10:52
on launch morning is the first time I had that that feeling that you asked about like
10:58
whoa I’m really going because you’re packing up your room you’re handing
11:03 
somebody your keys and your passport your wallet and your cell phone that they lock up in a safe you gotta you
11:10
know it’s this weird feeling that you’re you’re leaving the planet and you might not come back yeah and and that’s a
11:16
conversation that we do have with with um the psychologist team and then you got to have it with your family too and
11:21
have your Affairs in order I mean because if just look at the shuttle flew 135 times
11:29
and twice it the crew didn’t make it but I gotta think your seal background
11:34
helped tremendously with that no it did it does it does and and but you realize
11:40
that there’s variables that you can’t control and what the the similarities between both
11:46
um careers is that you train and prepare and stack the deck
11:53
in your favor of success as much as you in both cases where a group of people trying to accomplish a hazardous Mission
11:59
and do it safely and do it well and in Seal training you train and train and train and then you go to do a mission
12:05
you gather intelligence you go at night time you use the element of surprise you
12:10
do everything you can to stack the deck in your favor and and but there’s things
12:16
that you can’t control which are largely driven by the enemy in in space flight you have that same deep rich training
12:24
experience the engineers really think through all the what-ifs that can happen with the vehicle and the Technical
12:30
Systems but there’s some stuff that you don’t have control of and and that’s the environment and that’s this what that
12:36
whatever is going to happen that day right um what did you if you if you mind us asking what did you say what do you say
12:42
to your wife whose name is Peggy what do you tell her before launch is that something you can share like if something goes wrong what conversation
12:49
is she ironically she couldn’t be there on this last launch because she had to leave for covid
12:55
um so on launch day we talked on the phone uh but uh you know you just say
13:01
normal stuff love you okay I’ll talk to you talk to you from space uh you don’t
13:07
really say well what if yeah what that conversation happened five months ago
13:13
and you talk about it one or two times you make sure your Will’s in order and right you kind of tie that up in a bow
13:18
and leave it yeah yeah okay then let’s talk about space shuttle never launch
13:24
what does that feel like if you can put it in so our crew has this horrible
13:29
um uh um record that that we have the most
13:35
launch aborts for weather so five we launched on the sixth attempt
13:40
so five attempts over the course of about six weeks um we woke up thinking it was launch day
13:47
and I tell kids like imagine your mom and dad tell you tomorrow’s Christmas and you’re all excited you wake up and
13:54
you’re sitting at the top of the stairs waiting for them to say come on down with the cameras and and you wake up and you’re there and
14:00
your parents come around the corner go uh it’s not gonna be today it’s gonna be Thursday and then Thursday come around and go oh
14:06
no no it’s going to be two weeks from now on Wednesday and then you go oh okay eventually after five times that you
14:13
really don’t believe it’s gonna be Christmas yeah so um that happened uh two of those five uh
14:21
false attempts the sixth one really happened but two of those five we went through the whole nine yards got did the
14:28
whole day drove out to the pad buckled in out and the countdown goes up at nine minutes before launch is when the final
14:34
gopher launch happens and they said no go weather related weather yeah well
14:39
sure weather and then the other three that we didn’t get in the vehicle was a technical problem that we knew it we
14:45
woke up thinking it was launch day and at some point in the day they they said no we got technical problems so and the
14:50
funny part is each crew member gets 250 launch guest passes to go to Florida and watch oh man and it’s so easy to fill
14:58
250 you know you go to one you go to the level of cousins and boom you’re there
15:04
um and uh by the time we actually launched there was I think 11 or 12 like people I
15:11
had in the stands because everybody else had to go to work and go back to school and yeah they can’t hang out in Florida forever
15:17
um so it was really really interesting but so that day you wake up
15:22
it’s it’s about four o’clock in your duty day is when launch is scheduled for it’s not four o’clock on your watch
15:28
necessarily but we adjust our sleep schedule so that it is so you have plenty of time you wake up you maybe exercise go for a run whatever just you
15:35
whatever to chill your nerves um do you sleep the night before you do
15:40
this time you’re like it’s probably not gonna happen so that’s very true on this one I was like I don’t believe it and
15:46
the weather forecast was iffy anyway so yeah I slept like a baby probably the um you wake up you do some stuff you
15:53
have you have lunch and uh and then you go into the suit room and put the suit on and then you walk
16:00
out you’ve probably seen pictures of astronauts walking out waving as they go onto a bus you’re in the orange orange
16:05
suit and that’s when the hype starts to build you know because there’s reporters and people and outside there cameras
16:11
snapping away and um and you get onto the bus and we had a
16:16
pretty funny jovial crew a lot of movie quotes and a lot of kind of just funds
16:23
banned to write stuff was it all all just astronaut movie no no no no no we
16:28
had Talladega Nights was a big one yeah so a lot of shut up chip yeah
16:35
and uh so you ride this bus out it’s like a 20 minute ride to the pad
16:41
and as you get closer there’s a helicopter overhead there’s police escorts there the roads are all nobody’s
16:48
on it once you go past the viewing stands now there’s nobody out there and
16:53
you start to get really anticipate the excitement of it and then you get there and the doors open
16:59
and you get off and you’re just kind of looking up at this vehicle that’s on the pad and energy coming out of it and
17:05
steam and noises and creaks and moons and you there’s one person standing in the elevator waiting for beckoning you
17:12
to come in and get in and you ride up to the top and you crawl in one by one there is a telephone up there and
17:19
you can depending on where you are and this is the first person to load has to go right off the elevator and right in
17:24
everybody else has a second or two to make a phone call I remember on one of the attempts I called my brother and
17:30
said hey here I am getting in and we both thought that was pretty cool
17:35
um and you strap in and you’re there for about two and a half hours actually yeah for a long time and we astronauts do
17:42
wear diapers it’s true and you use it there because you’re lying on your back for two hours and and
17:48
like you wouldn’t have made it and
17:53
um they didn’t know what happened at break Chris yeah yeah
17:59
um and and then we got on this particular day we got to the T minus nine hold and I we’d been
18:06
looking at gray clouds and whatnot out so we weren’t really sure if it was go or no go and they they said you know uh
18:12
they go around the room you’re listening to the room in Houston and they’re like GNC go
18:17
avionics go weather go and we all looked at each other like
18:23
oh my God all right here we go fist bumps and yeah and uh at five minutes before launch you close and lock your
18:29
visor uh make sure your gloves are on tight you really just that at that point
18:34
you’re just laser focused all that Talladega night humor out the door it’s
18:39
complete game on Switched on Super Bowl mode um communication is very crisp like fuel
18:46
cell check main engine uh engaged you know that kind of thing at at uh T T minus uh 30 seconds I think
18:56
the onboard so up until then the computers were controlled through the umbilical cord
19:02
then the onboard navigation takes over and you see the gauge is all kind of switch and move and hone in at six
19:07
seconds before launch the main engines ignite because they’re liquid fuel yeah so if if the reason we do that for six
19:15
seconds is if an engine is unhealthy you can just rotate a valve and and turn turn the engine off and abort the launch
19:21
but the white solid rocket Motors on the side are solid fuel like you can poke
19:26
your finger into it like a pencil eraser looks like and so once they ignite that there’s no valve there’s no nothing it’s
19:32
you’re going so the health of the engines is assessed for those six seconds and then T minus zero everything
19:39
lights and and off you go and it’s just really really violent bumpy ride
19:44
um for how long so the thrust of the solids lasts for two minutes and those are turns out are
19:52
are the most uh violent nature of of the launch and so the total launch is around
19:58
eight and a half minutes eight forty five or so at the end of two minutes the white solid Motors fall off and then it
20:05
becomes super smooth and and almost so smooth that I couldn’t tell that we were
20:11
moving because the g-force is um Spike up and the solids fall away and you you go back
20:18
to lower G’s for a little bit and then you start picking up the G’s and I remember looking out thinking to myself
20:24
is this normal I looked at the commander if he’s cool I’m cool and he was fine so
20:29
it was all good and yeah the bulk of the thrust in the beginning you’re using to get altitude and then you pitch over and now you’re
20:36
starting to use the thrust to gain speed and you you launch obviously on the
20:41
coast of Florida the engines cut off somewhere on the um New England Seacoast
20:48
and uh and you know a little little beyond that but you uh you’re basically
20:54
paralleling the Eastern Seaboard um and and uh it’s an amazing how fast
21:01
and how many G’s are we talking about the vehicle monitors itself and throttles back to around three and a
21:06
half G’s to protect the equipment and the people um and uh and you ultimately are
21:13
targeting about 17 500 miles an hour which is the speed of the Earth’s rotation roughly uh it’s more about what
21:21
at what speed so what does it mean to be in orbit that’s the real question like if you could freeze the space station
21:28
at its altitude which is around 250 miles 300 miles varies
21:33
it it’s around 90 percent of the gravity that we have right here so you’re selling why isn’t come crashing to Earth
21:39
well it is coming crashing to Earth but it’s going so fast forward that the Earth is curving underneath it okay uh
21:47
so so the speed that you have to achieve is driven by the altitude that you’re going to interesting I’m there’s so much
21:53
so much going into it I it’s it’s hard for me to like you know that’s about my
21:59
explanation of it so when do you get to uh move freely about the cabin so
22:04
um in initial the engine cut off and and for me it was right away because my job
22:09
was to take pictures of the external fuel tank if you remember the space shuttle Columbia
22:15
it crashed on re-entry the reason it crashed is because on launch chunks of foam from the tank fell off and at High
22:22
Velocity that foam had enough energy to poke a hole in the wing and so when they they lived the whole mission did the
22:28
whole mission they didn’t know it and they came back into Earth and the plasma from reentry just ripped the wing right
22:34
off because it got through the heat shield so we learned from that that if we can determine that there’s no chunks
22:41
of foam missing then you’re reasonably sure that you’re safe so my job was to be the guy that takes detailed mapping
22:48
photographs of the tank right after we separated and so I knew this was an important job
22:55
and this funny story about it but I so I had rehearsed in my head engines off
23:01
gloves off helmet off camera to unbuckle pictures you know I had over and over in
23:06
my head because I’m new guy my first job I don’t want to mess it up I because I knew these photos were critically
23:12
important and um so I I just had it out of rote memorization did exactly what I
23:18
was supposed to do and then right about the time I had to change the camera lens I dropped the camera down and I’ve been looking like through this straw yeah at
23:25
this orange thing and um and now I realize that there’s Earth behind it and that was the first
23:31
time I saw saw Earth and it blew me away and I realized we were over the Straits
23:36
of Gibraltar basically we were over Europe and we’re just a half an hour or so into the mission and and uh is it
23:42
emotional does it like uh a little bit Yeah like holy cow I’m really here how special is this and all this training
23:49
all this stuff I’m here and we survived launch and um and then you go all right get back to it
23:56
yeah yeah okay this one takes you to the International Space Station I read that this is the first time in history that
24:03
13 people were together in space and that still is a record um that’s pretty pretty cool uh you made
24:09
your first spacewalk which lasted roughly six hours uh would you tell us apparently there was a CO2 leak in your
24:15
helmet that caused you to cancel the rest of that particular spacewalk well the CO2 it wasn’t a leak it was I was I
24:23
was so amped up and working so hard that I was producing more Co I was producing
24:29
CO2 at a rate faster than the suit could keep up with it oh wow did they teach you how to breathe in those things yeah they talked to you about it and tell you
24:35
but it’s it’s until you do it it’s hard to understand what pacing yourself is like
24:41
I didn’t feel out of breath at all but you know with the amp nature of it and
24:46
you’re there and um so it was entirely my my fault uh but I like to joke around
24:52
with my buddies and say I get my stuff done and twice as fast so yeah it’s all good yeah no but um uh so
25:01
that mission was wonderful like uh our crew did five spacewalks I got to do three of them the other two I was
25:08
involved with in suiting up my my friends and and just fantastic two-week
25:13
shuttle missions are two weeks long we went to the space station delivered and installed components of the space
25:19
station but then and then came home and the reason there was 13 people there because there were six people on the station and the shuttle we brought we
25:25
brought uh seven so for that two-week period there was there was 13 folks the first time the hatch opens for your
25:32
initial spacewalk is there anything you can share that would give us some in inside too it’s an amazing thing and
25:41
you’re going around the world every 90 minutes so half of that is the daylight and half of that is Darkness so you
25:47
don’t really know if it’s going to be day or night when you open the hatch and whoever designed the airlock they put the hatch on the floor
25:54
I wish they had put it in the ceiling or something because when you open the hatch you’re looking right at Earth and
25:59
your Earth brain is still there yeah and imagine you went to the tallest building
26:05
in New York City or something and you looked out over the edge and your Earth brain tells you whoa back
26:11
away this is not safe don’t be here do you have a height steel you don’t have a claustrophobia deal no I don’t have
26:18
Darkness Heights I don’t have a Heights thing but it it it’s still visually hits
26:24
you like whoa I could fall yeah and you have to you know settle into the fact that you
26:30
can let go of your hands and you’re not going to fall effectively your body is going 17 500 miles an hour also with the
26:37
vehicle that you’re that you’re next to yeah now we never take our hands off without being tethered like a rock
26:43
climber on a steep face you know you’re always tethered in some way and if when you go to time to move you disconnect a
26:50
tether that is a short one and we have this long retractable dog leash type thing
26:55
that that goes with us back and forth so but you feel no pull right I mean
27:00
there’s there’s no there’s no feeling like there’s no feeling of of force you
27:05
the retractable dog leash actually is only Force because it has a slight pull and the reason it does is if you did
27:11
fall off it would pull you back to wherever it’s hooked to yeah but in
27:17
terms of air resistance or any of that there’s no sensation just a visual sensation of movement yeah you’re
27:23
looking down you see oh there’s the Gulf of Mexico oh there’s Atlanta oh that must be Washington D.C oh New
27:30
York City Boston you’re gone um did you see some of those places that you had been over in Afghanistan and oh
27:36
yeah your memories and like think of like and even seeing them at night and lit up and stuff like that that’s I
27:42
think every one of us does that you you we love looking at Earth but what’s particularly cool is to look
27:48
at places that you know what it looks like on the ground and you can kind of picture and and to have this view from
27:54
from space looking down and knowing the area and you can like I live my town in
28:00
Maine has a river but you don’t see it’s not like you’re looking at Google Maps where there’s a border between
28:05
Massachusetts and New Hampshire and New Hampshire and Maine and you can tell where the highways are no it just looks
28:12
like this Big Blob so you actually have to find my hometown I would I would find Cape Cod easy to see yeah count River
28:19
inlets up from Cape Cod and know that that was a river in my town and that’s
28:24
how I could find it oh that’s cool describe the ISS for us please so the ISS
28:30
um is a total footprint if you put it in on a football field it would stretch from end to end but that includes the
28:36
solar rays and all the external features that allow it to exist you know support life basically the living component I
28:43
like to describe it as eight or nine school buses kind of connected together this way and some sideways and one or
28:48
two up and down um so there’s plenty of room you know a school bus is not very wide but there’s
28:55
lots of places to be and in fact on a given day it when it’s particularly particularly on this last mission was
29:01
just three of us there for the whole most of the whole six months we had some visitors the SpaceX guys um halfway
29:07
through but there’d be there’d be days where I wouldn’t see my crewmates for
29:13
until lunch you know yeah there’s one one gym area so we all wrote We all
29:19
generally bump into each other in the gym throughout the day taking turns on who’s going uh the Russian side has a
29:26
toilet we have a toilet the Russian side has sleeping quarters we have sleeping quarters they have a kitchen we have a kitchen so those basic human functions
29:33
kind of Drive where you spend a lot of your time but it’s International Space Station you’re all over the place going
29:39
different things now generally speaking Russian equipment the cosmonauts maintain and operate American Equipment
29:45
we maintain and operate but we’re trained on their stuff and they’re trained on our stuff but just it would
29:51
be weird if I went into your garage without asking you and took your Hammer yeah same thing it’s just courtesy up
29:56
there they come in hey can I borrow your whatever I’m like yeah here asking for a friend what’s uh what’s the
30:03
situation like up there he’s a plumber I’ll just yeah so I get asked about
30:09
um going to the bathroom so much I saw the kids on that documentary ask you that too well I so I decided to make a
30:14
video of it it’s on YouTube you can you can search Chris Cassidy space toilet and uh I go it’s pretty funny I think
30:21
and go into detail on how it works and your plumber friend might because we’re actually plumbers too uh when we’re up
30:28
there if we if it breaks you fix it in in the toilet is actually all joking
30:34
aside one of the critical items because if it’s not working it’s all stops until
30:39
that thing is fixed right I mean we have alternate methods you can there’s bags and stuff but you don’t want to do that
30:44
that’s a mess um so yeah nice we’ll we’ll check that out for sure and then the last last
30:50
comment on the first uh Mission re-entry re-entry is different from the soyuz I
30:55
think right yeah on the shuttle um there’s a there’s an upstairs and a downstairs flight deck and mid deck we
31:01
call it and so three four people sit upstairs three people sit downstairs on reentry I was sitting downstairs
31:07
um on launch I was upstairs and then Tom marshburn and I switched places just for experience
31:12
so I couldn’t see there’s no windows down there I couldn’t see uh but as you you come through the
31:19
atmosphere the Jeep you’re you’re you have zero g and then the there the crap the spacecraft starts intersecting the
31:26
atmosphere and G that the G forces start to pick up and you start to experience the G’s
31:33
and you’re used to no gravity so even just a tenth or two tenths of a of a g
31:38
feels like 1G like Earth and and it spikes up to three three and a half G’s
31:45
so it’s pretty intense and um but then the shuttle is effectively a
31:50
glider we burn the engine somewhere over the Indian Ocean to Target a piece of concrete in Florida which to me is
31:56
amazing and you Glide in and um you might have to do some Maneuvers
32:01
if you have too much it’s better to have too much energy than not enough right you don’t want to land in the Gulf of Mexico if you’re trying to get to the
32:08
coast of Florida it’s better to have to burn off a little energy above the Airfield and land uh and so we did a lot
32:15
lined up and and because I was downstairs I couldn’t see when we landed but I could hear the pilot and Commander
32:21
talking about air speed and altitude so I knew we were close but it was so soft I couldn’t feel I couldn’t have told you
32:28
that the main landing gear is touched the ground it’s not like an air an airplane at all no I mean it’s the same
32:33
concept right but but the between pilot skill and the guidance system it just
32:39
really smooth and then we we rolled out you rolled down the runway for a while
32:45
just on the back two wheels and eventually it loses enough momentum in the the main landing gear Falls the nose
32:51
falls down and that’s when you really can tell because we’re basically sitting right above the nose gear and boom and
32:56
then you you roll to a stop and immediately go into quarantine there’s no quarantine I was I was at Subway uh
33:04
getting a sandwich about four hours out what a celebration yeah and I remember thinking to be sponsored by them that
33:09
was a nice plug there Chris yeah I remember thinking that the people in in
33:15
the store and the person taking my order they had no idea I was like yeah you have no idea and even if you told them
33:21
they wouldn’t even believe it yeah yeah yeah because you land and you got to do some medical stuff it’s a little bit
33:27
different on the shuttle because it’s only a two week long Mission so they’re yeah as long as you’re healthy and feeling fine that evening you can go be
33:34
with your family you feel heavy you feel tired what do you feel like you feel it’s better to answer that question
33:40
after the six months I I the two-week Mission I just I
33:45
I don’t know I I didn’t feel overly burdened with with adaptation process
33:50
within a day or two I felt kind of normal on the second one you on the
33:55
Expedition 35 and 2013 and then Expedition 62. your boy the soyuz the Russian
34:03
Rockets yeah uh no longer is there a is there a space shuttle so we’re using other countries Rockets more or less
34:09
right yeah exactly and you spend 166 days on this Mission so considerably longer and made four more spacewalks
34:16
correct yeah and so it’s probably easier just to kind of talk about both of the
34:21
two long duration Missions at the same time because they’re effectively the same one uh the one in 2013. I I wasn’t
34:30
a new guy but I wasn’t the commander of the space station but my two crewmates were Russian cosmonauts I launched I did
34:36
a bunch of time in Russia and and launched in Kazakhstan and then in 2020 I was um the experienced guy I was
34:44
commander of the space station also with two Russian cosmonauts one of those cosmonauts he was equally as experienced
34:50
as I was so either one of us could have been the commander was just more of a Us’s turn to do it
34:56
um but jumping ahead to the re-entry since we were just talking about that on the
35:01
shuttle side it probably takes a full month after you’ve been up there for six months it
35:07
takes a full month I think to really get back to totally normal the first week or
35:12
so you’re not very stable we’re not allowed to drive a car for two weeks um
35:18
you you’re a little ginger walking down the stairs kind of yeah washing your
35:24
hair actually is a violent action because you close your eyes and you’re moving your head and you induce all this
35:29
motion and oh yeah and that’s really difficult um but if you saw me in the store or the
35:36
grocery store at week two you probably couldn’t tell but I can tell and so another month or
35:43
so and and you’re you’re pretty solid the recovery in the gym it’s not about lifting a bunch of heavy weights it’s
35:49
it’s like cones on the court going back and forth one stand on one foot throw tennis ball against the wall yeah those
35:55
kind of things to get your balance system all back together yeah you you uh on the fir on the second one Expedition
36:01
35 you took a selfie which is a point of noting at least but of so selfie of your
36:06
of yourself it became the most popular photos in the of the country or the world that a particular year was kind of
36:12
neat and you can go online and see it real easily the second uh the third excuse me the third Expedition 62 in
36:18
2020 which is was less than two years ago which is magnificent but you uh
36:23
became the 500 500 human in space uh in
36:28
a documentary called Among the Stars which I’ve watched about your journey is is was made is this guy this camera guy
36:35
is it one of the astronauts I know it is but is he is that his particular role is just to film you and everything on board
36:41
oh you’re looking at the guy I was the I was the filmer the sound guy the
36:46
producer the director and the subject you know because the um the crew is what it is and the Russian my two Cosmonaut
36:53
friends where they had their jobs to do during the day so all the footage in that documentary on the space flight I
37:00
set up the cameras and took it and re redid the take if it didn’t didn’t capture uh but the the two years leading
37:08
up to the launch there was a professional team a really really squared away organization full well 73
37:13
was a production team but they they did a great job of capturing and telling the story what I love about it is it tells
37:20
the team sport nature of space flight it’s not about the crew that puts the suit on there’s engineers and Mission
37:27
Control folks in multiple countries around the globe all working together to get pull this off and they did a great
37:32
job of telling that story not only are you there performing space missions and science experiment so you’re actually
37:38
having to film a documentary about yourself I mean that’s incredible just the thought you have to put that on top of all the stuff you’re already doing
37:44
well it the nice thing is you’re doing stuff all day long that’s interesting right and that the although the
37:51
documentary is six hours I guess it’s six one hour episodes I don’t know what the ratio is of filmed
37:57
versus what made it and didn’t but it’s it’s it’s like an iceberg you know yeah there’s tens and tens maybe hundreds of
38:04
hours that don’t make it into there and yeah there was so much that was filmed while I was on board the space station
38:09
some of it really stupid some of it 30 minutes of nothing with me floating in right so they had to sort them sort
38:16
through all of what would be interesting in the storytelling it was so well done what are what would be if there are any
38:22
similarity I mean you kind of like these deep ends of the ocean and learned all of this kind of you know when you did
38:30
the MIT like when you’re going down way deep down into the Earth and then you’re going way above it so are there any
38:36
similarities there were there any things that were kind of cool like uh parallels between your experiences like deep
38:43
within the Earth and then so far above it um
38:48
I guess the fact that deep in the or in the ocean and in space it’s not where
38:55
we’re meant to live so you need gear and you need equipment and what I learned in
39:00
both is that you you know you take care of your gear and it takes care of you and you got to trust your gear and Trust
39:06
the people that are maintaining and helping and building and and repairing all the of the equipment
39:13
um and then knowing what to do when something doesn’t go right so that you
39:18
can keep yourself alive and keep your body alive yeah uh and that falls back to to training so I don’t know if I’m
39:24
answering your question your question sure yeah yeah yeah um do you one of the psychological
39:31
things we were wondering is going from space and like you said going to Subway earlier how do you personally feel coming from
39:38
the space station and all this down to becoming not a regular guy but living almost a regular existence going out to
39:44
eat sleeping in a bed a normal bed is there a is there a kind of a buzz kill
39:49
so to speak maybe the wrong word but going from that to that how does one become a regular person after doing what
39:56
you’ve done well I think I think um we strive to remain regular people even
40:03
when we’re there and coming back I do remember after my first deployment to Afghanistan
40:09
coming back landed at the airport and that’s just that short 15-minute drive from the airport to my house
40:16
driving through the streets of Norfolk and there was Target and it was night time there’s lights everywhere and
40:22
there’s restaurants and McDonald’s and signs and noises and traffic lights
40:27
that was a lot yeah yeah it struck me like wow I didn’t expect it to be weird
40:34
to pass by a Target and because you’re you just were so used to
40:39
austere environment for so long and and so that was different
40:44
um coming back from from space I never really had any significant thoughts like that you
40:52
know it was just Earth is your home and and you just want to get back and
40:58
and um now that we’ve had coveted people can probably appreciate this a little bit more but when you’re on board the space
41:04
station for six months you’re living at work and it’s a cool work yeah but you’re
41:11
you’re wake up and you’re at work and you do your work and you’re there and you brush your teeth at work and you go to bed at work and that’s fine for a
41:18
couple weeks three weeks or a month but eventually it gets old and even though
41:24
you’re you can look out the window and see Earth and that does help put things in perspective it’s it’s still mentally
41:30
fatiguing and so six months is a long time I think the perfect mission length was would be four
41:37
months because you it takes a while to get comfortable and feel like you
41:42
understand and you can heat like after a few weeks or a month or so you can float by something and hear the noise and you
41:49
go that that noise isn’t right yeah um or you see some tool floating and you
41:54
go I know where this is supposed to go back and you just put it back um but so
42:01
um yeah they I forgot what I was where I was going
42:07
with that but was it peaceful up there very particularly at the end of the work
42:12
day so I that’s a good question actually I mean a good lead into that is what’s a
42:18
typical work week like so Monday through Friday is our work days we start at about 7 30 in the morning we
42:24
end about 7 30 at night in that 12-hour period of time is an hour for lunch and
42:30
a total of about two hours for exercise it takes a roughly an hour to do the weight lifting and a half hour on a bike
42:36
or treadmill and then they give you a half hour to clean up and cool down is that mandated the exercise it’s on the
42:43
schedule I mean you could not do it and it would you would be kind of a not so good astronaut if you did that but um no
42:50
one is going to shoot you in the head if you don’t but you’re it’s for your own best interest because we’ve learned over
42:55
time that uh and it’s not about being fit and strong it’s about bone health if
43:00
we did no exercise up there we’d come back with week and decayed bones like a very severe osteoporosis patient and
43:07
we’ve learned over 20 plus years of of people in space that weighted exercise
43:13
totally mitigates bone bone Decay wow so it’s it’s really really important makes
43:19
sense uh so yeah in that 12-hour day is exercising food uh and then you’re
43:24
following this schedule of time timeline that they put together and you do all that uh Saturdays are generally a half
43:30
day we do housekeeping and cleaning and and Sundays are completely day off and
43:35
so your question is when is it peaceful up there during the day you’re busy you’re doing this you’re always worried about Emma behind or what’s the next
43:41
thing I got to do do I got to be on TV next um and I have a funny story about that
43:47
first in a second and um and but in the evening every night when I was brushing
43:52
my teeth I always made a point to do it in the window and it’s all quiet the window the lights are turned down you’re
43:59
you’re done for the day you’re about to turn in and just sitting there brushing teeth watching Earth go by it was the
44:06
greatest greatest most that was my most peaceful time every day I know we’re trying to I gotta interject this
44:11
question we’re good take your time so 2008 to 2020 12-year span is not a
44:18
political question all did you see any changes in the earth like the way that it looked you know from those you it’s a
44:24
12-year span you know lots happened in 12 years on this place yeah could you could you notice anything from that
44:30
vantage point if you just looked out the window it might be difficult but oftentimes the the scientists would put
44:36
together hey take a picture of this Lake this is what it looked like on your last mission and there were several bodies of
44:44
water that were significantly smaller I noticed that the other difference in the
44:49
that I could see visually because people often asked who could you tell that it was covid going down on earth when
44:55
you’re up there and generally no because you remember people talking about oh the cities aren’t populated so the smog is down and you know blah blah blah you
45:01
couldn’t see that from space at least not with our visual naked eye but what you could tell normal normal non-covet
45:08
times the airplane contrails going into and out of the major airport hubs on the
45:14
European side and the North American side at different times of the day you see
45:19
this huge Confluence of contrails and covid there was not none of it no
45:25
airplanes flying you’d see that an occasional one contrail flying across the Atlantic that was the one thing I
45:31
could tell difference yeah interesting so Chris you accumulated in your three uh trips to space 10 spacewalks 377 days
45:39
total in space uh the fifth most in American history I mean that’s remarkable uh before we move on from
45:46
this and I hate to leave the space because it’s so fascinating you had a TV store you wanted to share real quick you
45:52
mentioned the TV oh yeah this is kind of funny uh um so you’re busy doing doing stuff and mostly that stuff is experiments you
45:59
know we’re activating experiences for the scientists on the ground and I’m doing my experiment and like with
46:05
beakers and test tubes all kinds of things that’s a whole nother hour topic about what you know some animals some
46:11
are are mechanical things some are with water some are with fire some are you know all different stuff this particular
46:17
day I don’t remember what I was doing but I was looking at like watch like oh I got to be on tele NASA TV in like four
46:22
minutes but I’m almost done let me just hurry up and finish and I had to pee really bad and uh and I had to change my
46:29
shirt and so I I do it I finish the experiment and I I go zipping down the um the the
46:37
module to go to the bathroom and after a certain time you amount of time you just you know how to turn you know how to do
46:44
it and you float right into the toilet and and I did that on rote memorization I whip around the corner and my feet go
46:51
into the stirrups and my hand is reaching out to grab the urinal and all of a sudden this thing goes over my head
46:56
I’m like oh that’s that’s weird and I’m like reaching for it and I move it off my face
47:03
and I realize it’s soaking wet and I take it off and it’s men’s jogging
47:09
shorts with the the mesh liner completely soaked all and my my crewmate
47:15
Luca who’s a really sweaty guy when he exercises and he’s my dear friend I love him uh he had just gotten off the
47:21
treadmill and he had changed in the bathroom and he left his shorts floating in the middle and so I’m I’m trying to
47:29
pee I’m trying to deal with this wet thing I gotta change my shirt in 90 seconds I got to be on television I get
47:35
it all done I get it off I’m wiping the off my face and and I go out hi I’m actually on Chris Cassidy live on the
47:41
International Space Station yeah keeping it all together keeping it all together when I’m like about to throw up that is
47:48
fantastic so inevitably your time and space comes to an end and you essentially retire from NASA and from
47:54
the the military USC the US Navy Seals currently they’re moving kind of a bit
48:00
forward quickly but currently you are the president and CEO of the Medal of Honor Museum which is currently in
48:06
construction set to open in 2024 here in Arlington Texas yep that’s what’s brought you back to the Metroplex which
48:13
we’re grateful for that’s how you and I connected first can we talk about that for briefly and then that’s that’s we
48:18
wanted to end with the Medal of Honor and your currency yeah absolutely so uh last summer when I was winding up my my
48:24
career at Nasa my a friend of mine who’s on the board of directors at the at our Museum he called me up and said would
48:29
you be interested in working in the nonprofit world and coming to join our our project with the Medal of Honor
48:35
Museum and I learned more about it learned what it where it was what the mission was and what the state of
48:42
construction or you know at that point there was no construction and and I just kind of got excited about it and it
48:48
seemed like a good fit what I loved about my time in the military and at Nasa I felt like I was serving the nation
48:54
you know I got to do a lot of cool stuff personally but really when it boiled down to it as serving the nation and
48:59
that’s what I feel I can do here just outside of the uniform is serve the nation build this thing bring something
49:06
cool to DFW but really bring it to the nation so that’s kind of all pretty cool and um the the snippet I found is 40
49:15
million Americans have served in the armed forces since the Civil War and 3 511 only have earned the Medal of Honor
49:22
so it’s a really rarefied error so to speak in that regard so you’re dealing with people that have done significantly
49:28
valuable things in the military exactly and there’s 66 of them living today yep
49:34
yeah so it’s a it’s a it’s a passing treasure that we have to uh help tell their story I saw it on the website
49:41
which is fantastic it’s a mohmuseum.org correct they they list all
49:46
the all the recipients and but the board of directors is is who’s who of people it’s the U.S presidents people like
49:54
yourself that that have done significant things in the in the world it’s it’s amazing board of directors we had a we
50:00
had a board meeting last week and I remember just sitting there going why am I at the head of this table this is
50:05
really humbling now the presidents are advisors they’re not on the actual board of directors but but yeah that we’re
50:10
very blessed to have their their well we just spent two episodes finding out why you know you got a lot of reasons why oh
50:17
thank you for saying that and it’s awesome to have you here and I know that um I know that this area getting that
50:23
Medal of Honor Museum was a big catch too I mean that was not easy lifting and
50:28
I know that everyone who was involved in that including judge Whitley and these other folks at the county level were
50:34
very uh enthused about it and you’re going to work with a former uh Kate Granger staffer uh Miss Vandergriff yep
50:42
absolutely as well so it’s we’re we can’t I mean just first time meeting you you’re the right guy for the job so
50:48
thank you so much for that I appreciate it married to a woman named Peggy who you met at Nasa you told us that and
50:54
you’re are dealing with five children most of them are old enough to be called grown-ups grown-ups five children and
50:59
with all that going on said what an incredible existence man yep we’re grateful for the time Life’s good uh we
51:05
always ask our guests the last question it’s it’s what we do this for every guest but us all side your your family
51:11
and your wife and marital Affairs what is the best day of your whole life you said that aside yeah you can’t you
51:18
can’t no no family yet because that yeah cause everybody now some people like um Miss vandergriff’s husband still did
51:24
the family thing he is just he he couldn’t Victor on here and he just went right forward he couldn’t allow it though yeah you killed it yeah just
51:32
kidding no family yeah um I would probably say
51:39
the the moment I opened the hatch on my first spacewalk yeah that was just such
51:45
a it brought everything together all the hard work all the everything it was right there at that moment well those
51:51
that have heard you speak today can appreciate it so thank you Chris Cassidy thank you thank you cap Tech’s bank for
51:56
making this all happen yep and I’m gonna give a little uh shout out to a guy that we lost a good guy uh Ned Barlow this
52:03
past week so this this episodes are are for him and uh and thank you again for
52:08
all of your efforts and thanks for being a good dude thank you gentlemen appreciate it
52:13
foreign