Astronaut Chris Cassidy encourages social distancing, staying positive through social media challenge

#DoTheShelter challenge goes viral

HOUSTON – NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy is an American hero, currently at the International Space Station to Command Expedition 63. Cassidy, though, has been helping to spread the message of the importance of sheltering in place and keeping a positive attitude.

Cassidy left Earth to go to the International Space Station with Expedition 63 crewmembers Ivan Vagner of Roscosmos and Anatoly Ivanishin. The Soyuz docked safely at the ISS Thursday despite the pandemic sweeping throughout the world. Cassidy is leading America’s research in space even during this pandemic. But before he left, Cassidy shared a post on Instagram participating in the #DoTheShelter challenge.

Sharing the fun and viral video challenge made by Michael Magnuson, a California dad, Cassidy joined in on the challenge and explained how astronauts stay in quarantine before a big mission.

"We've actually been in strict quarantine for about a month now," Cassidy said in his Instagram video posted last week before the launch.

In the video, Cassidy shows us what astronauts do to stay safe.

“What do astronauts do when we’re in quarantine? Well, we do largely what the rest of the world is doing...mission preparation which is analogous to work, exercising, playing games, of course, great conversation,” Cassidy explained.

Cassidy wanted to share the importance of keeping positive and staying home.

“It’s also no secret that humor is a great stress relief. We’ve seen this all over the internet with things--creative things to help people stay positive,” Cassidy said.

“Hopefully bring some smiles to people faces--but also show the importance of social distancing,” Magnuson said of the challenge he started.

He said he was honored that Cassidy shared the post.

"Even someone whose work is as important as his is, felt that there was some value in maybe the levity that we were adding," Magnuson said.

The premise of the challenge is to share something positive that you’re doing during the stay at home order and get others to do it too. Then tag friends to do the same.

"That song really puts a smile on my face, and I hope it did for you," Cassidy said.

For 18-year-old Jessica Middleton, it did. She shared her own video.

“Chris really inspired me,” Middleton said. “The positivity, the motivation to go help other people.”

Middleton, an exceptional student, met Cassidy when she was 11 years old, writing a thank you note years later that inspired Cassidy to give her a NASA tour. She says he’s her role model.

"Being an astronaut would be so cool," Cassidy said.

Even now, in space, this Expedition 63 Commander is creating an impact.

“We’re all in this together-each individual is responsible to mitigate and slow down the spread of the virus,” Cassidy said.