HomeBad Ass AsiansDr. Jonny Kim to graduate as NASA astronaut candidate
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Dr. Jonny Kim to graduate as NASA astronaut candidate

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Dr. Jonny Kim is one of 11 NASA astronaut candidates to graduate basic training early next year. He will be among the first class of candidates to graduate under the Artemis program, NASA’s mission to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024 to prepare for an unprecedented Mars landing.

The graduating class has completed over two years of training including spacewalking, robotics, Russian language and more, and will be eligible for spaceflight after the Jan. 10, 2020 ceremony, according to NASA.

Unlike many of his NASA classmates, Kim’s interest in space exploration developed after practicing medicine. When selected for astronaut candidacy in 2017, Kim was a resident physician in emergency medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

The Los Angeles native became inspired to pursue a career in medicine when he enlisted in the U.S. Navy after graduating high school, he said in a 2017 video chat.

“I was always interested in science in high school,” he said. “[But] I knew going to college wasn’t the right answer for me immediately.”

He trained and operated as a U.S. Navy SEAL, during which he served as a combat medic, sniper, navigator and point man on more than 100 combat operations over two deployments in the Middle East. His service earned him a Silver Star and Bronze Star with Combat “V,” according to his NASA biography. Recently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs honored Kim as the Veteran of the Day.

Kim then studied mathematics at the University of San Diego, graduating summa cum laude in 2012. He went on to earn a doctorate of medicine at Harvard Medical School, and served his medical internship at hospitals in Boston.

A first-generation Korean American, Kim recognized his background as part of his success.

“My parents were South Korean immigrants who came to the U.S. in the early 80s for the hope of a better future for their children,” he told NASA.

By graduating basic training, Kim and his classmates will help develop spacecraft, support teams in space, and join the elite ranks of only 500 other astronauts.

“I fundamentally believe in the NASA mission of advancing our space frontier, all the while developing innovation and new technologies that would benefit all of humankind,” he said.

Kim was selected for astronaut candidacy from over 18,000 candidates, a record-setting number of applicants, according to the NASA.

“I was in the middle of grocery shopping at [a] store when I got the call,” he recalled of the day NASA notified him. “[My wife and I] were expecting the call, and it was just a very surreal moment. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it — but I think my heart was racing a hundred beats a second, and I tried not to lose my composure in the middle of the grocery store.”

Upon graduation, Kim will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office until he receives a flight assignment.

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