Former Navy SEAL Joins NASA’s Newest Astronaut Recruits to Conduct Research off the Earth, For the Earth and Deep Space Missions

After receiving a record-breaking number of applications to join an exciting future of space exploration, NASA has selected its largest astronaut class since 2000. Rising to the top of more than 18,300 applicants, NASA chose 12 women and men as the agency’s new astronaut candidates.

Astronauts 2017
NASA announced its 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class on June 7, 2017. The 12 candidates, pictured here at NASA’s Ellington Field in Houston, are Zena Cardman, U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli, U.S. Navy Lt. Jonny Kim, U.S. Army Maj. Francisco “Frank” Rubio, U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick, Warren “Woody” Hoburg, Robb Kulin, U.S. Navy Lt. Kayla Barron, Bob Hines, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Raja Chari, Loral O’Hara and Jessica Watkins. Credits: NASA/Robert Markowitz

Vice President Mike Pence joined NASA leaders Wednesday as they introduced the members of the 2017 astronaut class during an event at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. While at Johnson, the vice president toured the International Space Station mission control center, and the historic mission control center, which was used during early NASA spaceflights, including the first moon landing mission, Apollo 11. He also was presented with a model of the International Space Station and a framed U.S. flag that was flown to and from the orbiting laboratory this winter.

“These are 12 men and women whose personal excellence and whose personal courage will carry our nation to even greater heights of discovery and who I know will inspire our children and our grandchildren every bit as much as your forebears have done so in this storied American program,” said Vice President Pence. “And to this newest class of astronauts, it’s my honor to bring the sincere congratulations of the 45th President of the United States of America, President Donald Trump. Your President is proud of you, and so am I.”

Astronaut Candidate Jonny Kim (Robert Markowitz : NASA)
Former Navy SEAL now Astronaut Candidate Jonny Kim (Robert Markowitz / NASA)

Dr. Kim took an unusual path to Harvard Medical School. A graduate of Santa Monica High School, he enlisted in the Navy and made his way onto a SEAL team. After proving himself as a combat medic (among other roles) in more than 100 missions — and earning a Silver Star and Bronze Star — he joined the ranks of naval officers and earned a degree in math from the University of San Diego. Now 33, Kim is training as an emergency physician at Massachusetts General Hospital.


Name: Jonathan Yong Kim
Home of Record: California
Date Enlisted: Oct. 22, 2002
Date Commissioned: May 29, 2012
Designator: Reserve Medical Corps Officer
Rank/Date of Rank: Lieutenant / May 26, 2016


Bureau of Navy Medicine and Surgery, Bethesda, MD
Navy Recruiting District New England, Boston, MA 08/01/2012 – 05/30/2016
Student, Seaman-to-Admiral-21, University of San Diego 04/20/2009 – 07/31/2012
West-Coast-Based Special Warfare Unit 04/21/2005 – 02/19/2009
Student, John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center, Fort Bragg, NC 09/16/2004 – 04/13/2005
Student, Navy Advanced Special Warfare Training, Coronado, CA 03/31/2004 – 08/27/2004
Student, Navy Basic Special Warfare Training, Coronado, CA 06/27/2003 – 02/20/2004
Student, Naval Medical Training, San Antonio, TX 12/20/2002 – 06/26/2003
Student, Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, IL 10/22/2002 – 12/20/2002


Silver Star
Bronze Star w/Combat “V”
Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/Combat “V”
Combat Action Ribbon
Good Conduct Medal (3)
National Defense Service Medal
Iraq Campaign Medal
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (2)
Rifle Marksmanship Ribbon w/Silver “E” expert device
Pistol Marksmanship Ribbon w/Silver “E” expert device

Enlisted Special Warfare Specialist (SEAL)
Enlisted Basic Parachutist

NASA’s 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class stopped for a group photo while getting fitted for flight suits at Ellington Airport near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

The astronaut candidates will return to Johnson in August to begin two years of training. Then they could be assigned to any of a variety of missions, including: performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and departing for deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

“We look forward to the energy and talent of these astronauts fueling our exciting future of discovery,” acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said. “Between expanding the crew on board the space station to conduct more research than ever before, and making preparations to send humans farther into space than we’ve ever been, we are going to keep them busy. These candidates are an important addition to the NASA family and the nation’s human spaceflight team.”

With the addition of these 12 members of the 2017 astronaut candidate class, NASA now has selected 350 astronauts since the original Mercury 7 in 1959.

“These women and men deserve our enthusiastic congratulations,” said astronaut and Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa. “Children all across the United States right now dream of being in their shoes someday. We here at NASA are excited to welcome them to the team and look forward to working with them to inspire the next generation of explorers.”

Astronaut candidates will be available to talk to media in person at Johnson and by remote satellite link on June 8. Media interested in this limited opportunity should contact the Johnson newsroom at 281-483-5111.

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