An MIT Alumni Association Publication

The lead-up to NASA’s April 9 launch to the International Space Station coincided with something the space program has never had to deal with before: the unfolding of a global pandemic. Astronaut Chris Cassidy SM ’00 says the launch process remained the same, but precautions due to Covid-19 were certainly different.

“It was a different feel,” explains the former chief astronaut in an interview recorded hundreds of miles above Earth in May. “Walking out to the bus to go to the launch pad and nobody was there. It was like walking into an empty parking lot, which is normally full of people and cheering and happy.”

Watch the video to hear him describe prelaunch isolation, fellow crew members’ experience returning to a planet in the grip of coronavirus, and more.