A White Bear Lake Area High School graduate is headed to space.
On October 5, Josh Cassada (WBLAHS class of ‘91) and his crew blasted off from Kennedy Space Center in the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft to start their five month mission at the International Space Station (ISS). Among the crew members was fellow NASA astronaut Nicole Mann—the first Native American woman to travel to orbit—as well as astronaut Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and cosmonaut Anna Kikina of Roscosmos.
Although he was born in San Diego, Cassada considers White Bear Lake to be his hometown. After graduating from WBLAHS, Cassada went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in physics from Albion College and a doctorate in physics at the University of Rochester. Cassada then became a naval aviator and earned his wings of gold in 2001. After completing two operational deployments and 23 combat missions, Cassada became a test pilot and an instructor at the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.
In 2013, Cassada was selected as one of the eight members of the 21st NASA astronaut class. After two years of training, Cassada completed his candidate training and became involved in NASA efforts, including the development of the Orion spacecraft. Now, his time with NASA has culminated in the first spaceflight of his life.
Crew-5 will be relieving the four astronauts from SpaceX’s Crew-4 mission, who will take a sparatate Crew Dragon spacecraft back to earth. On the ISS, NASA says that the crew will set to work performing over 200 science experiments. “Experiments will include studies on printing human organs in space, understanding fuel systems operating on the Moon and better understanding heart disease,” NASA says on their website.