By Sara Bondell - April 08, 2021
Brian Brady has loved space since he was a little boy. He received degrees in aerospace engineering and was a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Army. In 2020, he landed his dream job at NASA.
“I sent in my application and didn’t think I had a prayer,” said Brady. “I was shocked that they called me back and am stoked to have this amazing opportunity.”
Brady wouldn’t let anything get in the way of this once in a lifetime opportunity, not even cancer.
Brady was on active duty in Seattle when he started having pain in his ribs in 2018. After multiple trips to the emergency room, doctors believed he had acid reflux. But when the pain continued, additional testing diagnosed Brady with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), a type of cancer that affects white blood cells.
The main treatment of ALL is long-term chemotherapy that usually takes about two years. Brady immediately started treatment, and when the NASA job came along he was fortunately healthy enough to accept the job and move across the country to Florida. He transferred his care to Moffitt Cancer Center.
At Kennedy Space Center, Brady is a test director who works with Exploration Ground Systems. He is currently working on the Artemis Program, which hopes to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024. The last time an American was on the moon was 1972.
Brady is helping Exploration Ground Systems prepare for Artemis I, the first uncrewed test flight of the program. The goal of the mission is to assure a crew can safely make the journey in the future. It will also carry 13 small satellites that will perform science and technology investigations.
Artemis I is made of three components: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System rocket and Exploration Ground Systems. “Our job is to take the rocket and all the different components and bring them together to test them to make sure all systems can communicate with each other and are operable,” said Brady. “Additionally, we help to write and execute the launch countdown procedures and will send a team out with the Navy to recover Orion when it splashes down off the coast of California.”
Brady and his team hope to launch Artemis I by the end of the year, around the same time he will complete his treatment. Right now, Brady is in maintenance therapy, which is the final leg of his treatment.
“I am really happy that I have a great crew helping me out at Moffit and a great crew at NASA,” said Brady.