At age 6, Chad Keller already knew he wished to be an astronaut, however his imaginative and prescient wasn’t sharp sufficient to go the army necessities to turn into a fighter pilot.
As an alternative, by no means dropping sight of his dream, Keller pursued a level in aerospace engineering, hoping to sometime make it into house.
On September 11, 2001 the 29-year-old U.S. Division of Protection and Nationwide Reconnaissance Workplace satellite tv for pc propulsion specialist was on his manner dwelling to California after attending a collection of launch conferences on the Pentagon.
At 9:37 a.m., the airplane he was on—American Airways Flight 77—crashed into the Pentagon.
Keller’s life ended that day, however due to the efforts of NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, shut to twenty years on, his house mission goals have been lastly made a actuality.
A former Navy SEAL platoon commander, Cassidy spent two excursions within the Center East within the aftermath of 9/11. He started coaching to turn into an astronaut in 2004 on the finish of his second deployment.
Cassidy’s NASA profession highlights embody crewing aboard the Endeavor shuttle in 2009, two excursions on the Worldwide House station, and 10 spacewalks.
In line with Cassidy, NASA permits astronauts to deliver a choice of small private keepsakes—equivalent to pictures, patches, or pins—together with them on their missions. For his first two house outings, Cassidy targeting mementos from his household however for his remaining mission in 2020, he wished to share the distinctive and significant alternative with somebody who’d actually admire it.
After studying about Chad Keller’s lifelong ardour for house journey at New York Metropolis’s Nationwide September 11 Memorial & Museum, Cassidy knew he’d discovered a kindred spirit.
Cassidy reached out to Keller’s father, Richard, with a proposition: He was heading into house quickly and puzzled if Chad wish to tag alongside. Richard’s reply was a powerful, “Sure!”
On April 2020, when Cassidy and the remainder of his crew lifted off, pins from Chad’s days at Boeing and the College of Colorado, a program from his memorial service, a snapshot of Chad and his spouse Lisa, and a few of his ashes went with him.
To spherical out the gathering, Cassidy additionally introduced commemorative gadgets from the 9/11 Museum.
Over the course of the mission, with a shocking backdrop of the Earth behind them, Cassidy photographed every merchandise from his stock within the house station’s observatory cupola.
Together with documenting moments in historical past, he additionally despatched out messages of hope to the folks on the planet beneath.
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“With every merchandise that I pull out, I at all times pause for a second to suppose just a little bit in regards to the story to that exact merchandise,” Cassidy informed CNN. “It’s sort of particular to consider the story and the trail, the journey of that object from the fingers that it was in to my fingers to this window.”
Within the 20 years since Chad Keller’s passing, his household had a mission of their very own—to scatter his ashes on the locations that held the best that means to him. Because of Cassidy, they have been lastly capable of ship them to the one place he’d at all times most wished to go—house.
Now retired from NASA, Cassidy is presently overseeing the development of the Nationwide Medal of Honor Museum and Medal of Honor Management Institute in Arlington, Texas, and the Nationwide Medal of Honor Monument in Washington, D.C.
Whereas Cassidy and the Kellers have but to satisfy in individual, the bond they cast in bringing Chad’s dream to life is a testomony to the resilience of the human spirit within the face of tragedy; one informed from a perspective that’s each humbling and hopeful.
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“The world can be a greater place if each human being obtained 5 minutes to look out that window of the house station,” Cassidy informed CNN. “It made me extra appreciative for the whole lot that Earth presents to us. Friendships, connections, and shared experiences are all that rather more significant to me now.”
And that could be a take-away that’s common.
“The Cosmos is all that’s or ever was or ever can be,” Carl Sagan wrote. If we will merely keep in mind that we’re a part of one thing bigger than ourselves, then whether or not we’re earthbound or breaking the bonds of gravity, within the right here and now or a part of what’s come earlier than, all of us are crusing among the many stars.
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