A former astronaut is lending his hand to a newly launched photographic, philanthropic fundraiser.
Chris Cassidy, who spent 378 days off Earth, is among the first class of famous hands taking part in My Hand My Cause, a nonprofit initiative that aims to combine the power of celebrity with fine art photography to support charities and foundations around the world.
Cassidy — or more specifically, his right hand — posed for Dennis Murphy, an award-winning photographer and co-founder of My Hand My Cause, while wearing a spacesuit sleeve. The resulting image was then reproduced as a 12-by-16-inch (30 by 40 centimeters) print featuring Cassidy's life-size hand.
The final product also includes Cassidy's printed signature and the date of when the image was taken (in Cassidy's case, June 21, 2022). The astronaut's "hand" is now for sale for $105 per print.
"The hand tells a story of the achievements of athletes, musicians, doctors, scientists and so many other inspiring people. We want to spotlight that while also doing a lot of good for the foundations and charities that matter most to each of them," Murphy, who created My Hand My Cause with marketing executive Everett Wilder, said in a statement.
"It's inspiring to think that if as few as 50,000 prints are sold by one celebrity, we've raised millions and millions of dollars for their charity," he said.
For every print sold, $75 is donated to the celebrity's charity. The additional funds cover photography expenses, printing and basic shipping.
Cassidy's prints are being sold to benefit the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation, an organization that Cassidy has led since leaving NASA. The foundation is working to establish a museum in Arlington, Texas, and a monument in Washington, DC to preserve and expand the impact of the 3,515 Medal of Honor awardees and the more than 40 million Americans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces since the Civil War.
"I have dedicated my life to the service of others and country, and I am humbled by the opportunity to continue to serve by helping to lead this historic project. It is a privilege to do my part to honor the service and sacrifice represented by the Medal, its recipients, and all those who have served," said Cassidy when he became president and CEO of the National Medal of Honor Museum Foundation.
"Today more than ever, we need to be reminded the things which unite us are so much more powerful than those which seek to divide. This project is truly uniting America," said Cassidy, who in addition to being a former astronaut is also a former U.S. Navy SEAL.
The sale of Cassidy's hand prints began on Friday (Feb. 17). Other members of the My Hand My Cause inaugural class include international basketball legend Dirk Nowitzki, pro football star Dak Prescott and professional rock climber Alex Honnold.
Cassidy launched on three missions to the International Space Station. In 2009, he became the 500th person to fly into space while helping to deliver the final two components of Japan's experiment module and then lived and worked on board the station during two long-duration stays in 2013 and 2020.
Cassidy's final mission was the focus of the 2021 Disney+ six-part documentary "Among the Stars."
Over the course of his NASA astronaut career, Cassidy performed 10 spacewalks, an activity that despite its name is largely achieved using one's hands.
In addition to selling prints, My Hand My Cause also plans to display and celebrate the hand photographs at gallery events to raise additional funding for each charity. The organization is also working with its supporters on an advertising campaign to give the new effort a hand up.
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Robert Pearlman is a space historian, journalist and the founder and editor of collectSPACE.com, an online publication and community devoted to space history with a particular focus on how and where space exploration intersects with pop culture. Pearlman is also a contributing writer for Space.com and co-author of "Space Stations: The Art, Science, and Reality of Working in Space” published by Smithsonian Books in 2018. He previously developed online content for the National Space Society and Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin, helped establish the space tourism company Space Adventures and currently serves on the History Committee of the American Astronautical Society, the advisory committee for The Mars Generation and leadership board of For All Moonkind. In 2009, he was inducted into the U.S. Space Camp Hall of Fame in Huntsville, Alabama. In 2021, he was honored by the American Astronautical Society with the Ordway Award for Sustained Excellence in Spaceflight History.