A decorated veteran of the sea, air, land, and outer space, Captain Chris Cassidy is among the leaders of an exclusive and distinguished group of accomplished military astronauts who have made an impact on and beyond this world. Recognized for his leadership and achievements as a United States Navy SEAL and a NASA astronaut, CAPT Cassidy’s various military deployments and spaceflight missions provided the catalysts for an action-packed career where he made the most of every opportunity presented to him, even in challenging and high-stakes environments.
CAPT Cassidy’s talks explore the habits of effective leaders and how they can motivate their teams to overcome the obstacles in front of them and foster a high-performing culture of trust. With a talent for storytelling and well-timed humor, he shares his inspiring journey from the U.S. Naval Academy to becoming NASA’s 15th Chief Astronaut — motivating audiences to develop a never-quit mindset to accomplish their goals, and help others along the way.
His career began as a member of the U.S. Navy SEALs team where he spent 11 of his 28 years in the Navy — making two six-month deployments to Afghanistan and a further two deployments to the Mediterranean. During his tenure with the Navy SEALS, he served in various leadership roles, including Executive Officer and Operations Officer of Special Boat Team Twenty and SEAL Delivery Vehicle (SDV) platoon commander in Norfolk, Virginia, as well as SEAL platoon commander at SEAL Team THREE in Coronado, California. Deployed to Afghanistan just two weeks after the September 11 attacks, Cassidy also served as Ground Assault Force Commander for international and U.S.-only combat missions. A master of many trades while serving his country, CAPT Cassidy also amassed several hundred hours underwater as a navigator or mission commander of a two-man flooded submersible SDV which are launched from a full-sized submarine at sea.
Making his way from Earth to the cosmos, CAPT Cassidy was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 2004. Assigned his first spaceflight in 2009 as a mission specialist aboard the STS-127, he became the 500th person in history to fly into space, as well as the second-ever SEAL. In subsequent flight experiences, CAPT Cassidy was assigned to Expedition 35 in 2013 as a flight engineer and Expedition 63 as Commander of the International Space Station in 2020. While at NASA, CAPT Cassidy accumulated 378 days in space, and 54 hours, 51 minutes of spacewalk time, placing him in an elite group of four U.S. crewmembers with 10 spacewalks. He was named NASA’s Chief Astronaut in 2015, a role in which he was responsible for flight assignments, mission preparation, and on-orbit support of U.S. crews, as well as organizing astronaut office support for future launch vehicles. He served in this position for two years before returning to normal flight status. In May 2021, three-time space veteran CAPT Cassidy announced his retirement from both NASA and the Navy.
Among CAPT Cassidy’s awards and honors are the Bronze Star with combat “V,” the Presidential Unit Citation for leading a nine-day operation at the Zharwar Kili cave complex on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, a second Bronze Star for combat leadership during Operation Enduring Freedom, and the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal. He completed the 2014 Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii and spent three weeks cycling through the Amazon rainforest in 2017. CAPT Cassidy earned his Bachelor of Science in mathematics from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1993 and his Master of Science in ocean engineering from MIT in 2000. He was awarded an honorary Ph.D. from Husson University in 2015, and a second honorary Ph.D. from the University of Maine at Augusta in 2021.