NASA astronaut mourns Beirut blast victims from space

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy shared a view of Beirut, Lebanon, from space on Aug. 11, 2020.
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy shared a view of Beirut, Lebanon, from space on Aug. 11, 2020. (Image credit: NASA)

A week after two massive explosions echoed through Beirut, Lebanon, a NASA astronaut shared his view of the capital city from orbit and his best wishes for its residents.

The city experienced two powerful blasts at its port in the local evening of Aug. 4, killing at least 171 people and injuring thousands, according to the Associated Press. Nearly 3,000 tons (2.5 million kilograms) of a chemical called ammonium nitrate stored at the port may have caused the incident. On Tuesday (Aug. 11), NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy, who is living on the International Space Station, shared the orbital laboratory's view of the shaken city.

"Thinking of Beirut today," Cassidy wrote in the tweet. "My heart goes out to all of those who have been affected by the recent tragedy. Sending love from @Space_Station."

In photos: The Expedition 63 mission to the International Space Station

Cassidy's views augment a host of satellite images of devastation caused by the blasts, including NASA analyses of data gathered by the European Space Agency's fleet of Copernicus Sentinel Earth-observing satellites to determine where the ground shifted during the explosions.

Cassidy is currently the only NASA astronaut in space, living on board the orbiting laboratory with Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. The trio arrived in April and will remain in orbit until October. Next month, three NASA astronauts and a Japanese astronaut are scheduled to launch on the first full-fledged mission of SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft to round out the space station's roster.

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Meghan Bartels
Senior Writer

Meghan is a senior writer at and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.