WHAT: Astronaut Christopher Cassidy – who has completed NASA missions at the International Space Station and is an elite Navy SEAL commander – will visit UMass Lowell as part of a two-day tour of the city sponsored by the university. During his stay, he will also meet with students at Lowell public schools and Middlesex Community College to share his knowledge of space, science and service to his country.
Cassidy – who calls York, Maine home – was the first U.S. astronaut to complete a flight to the space station in less than six hours. During a five-month mission there last year, he performed an emergency spacewalk to determine the cause of a potentially dangerous problem and worked on hundreds of research experiments to benefit future space missions and life on Earth. He was among the crew members who assisted with the arrival of spacecraft from European, Japanese and Russian aeronautics agencies that delivered cargo and supplies.
Cassidy’s first expedition to the space station in 2009 called on him to help complete its assembly. The mission included a record number of crew members from the U.S., Canada, Europe, Japan and Russia. Cassidy, who has completed six spacewalks, also has significant experience on the ground, having worked as a capsule commander in Mission Control.
Before joining NASA in 2004, he served for 10 years as a Navy SEAL, taking part in critical special-tactics missions under the sea, on the land and in the air. Deployed four times – twice to Afghanistan and twice to the Mediterranean – his honors include two Bronze Stars and a NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal.
Cassidy’s tour is not open to the general public but media are invited to cover it. At UMass Lowell, he will meet with students in UMass Lowell’s ROTC unit and others who won a national NASA competition last year that challenged them to design and build a Mars rover-style robot – nicknamed the “Rover Hawk” – and operate it remotely on terrain that mimicked another planet’s surface. The demonstration will take place on Friday, April 4 from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. at the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center at UMass Lowell, 1001 Pawtucket Blvd., Lowell.
Cassidy will also make presentations at the following stops:
Thursday, April 3:
- James F. Sullivan Middle School, to fifth- and eighth-graders from 9 to 9:45 a.m., 150 Draper St., Lowell;
- Lowell High School, to students at the Cyrus Irish Auditorium from 10 to 10:45 a.m. and to students in the school’s ROTC unit at the ROTC Suite from 10:45 to 11:30 a.m., 50 Father Morissette Blvd., Lowell;
- S. Christa McAuliffe Elementary School, to second-, third- and fourth-graders from 1:15 to 2 p.m., 570 Beacon St., Lowell.
Friday, April 4:
- Middlesex Community College, to students at the City Building, Lower Café from 9 to 10 a.m., 33 Kearney Square, Lowell.