A Navy SEAL has successfully completed the NASA Astronaut program.
Last week, Lieutenant Jonny Kim graduated from the course and now is qualified for missions to the International Space Station and the moon.
Kim enlisted in the Navy in 2002. After successfully completing the grueling Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) and SEAL Qualification Training (SQT) courses, he joined SEAL Team Three. He deployed twice to Iraq. For his actions on the battlefield, Kim earned the Silver Star, the nation’s third-highest award for valor under fire.
He then accepted a commission and joined the Navy Reserves. He also went to Harvard Medical School, from which he graduated in 2016.
“A true privilege and honor to walk among the NASA Astronaut Corps with my brothers and sisters,” said Kim. “We know there are many qualified and deserving candidates out there — we’re the lucky ones to represent humanity. Let’s work towards a better future for our world and our children.”
Kim was into the first year of his four-year residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital when he learned that NASA had accepted his application.
Talking about the NASA Astronaut program, Kim said that “we do more than space. NASA continues to make contributions to aviation to improve the lives of all on Earth. Quiet supersonic travel and electric aircraft standards are just two of the many innovations we are working hard to bring to the public.”
Kim was just one of 11 successful applicants for the NASA Astronaut program out of approximately 18,000 candidates — talk about high attrition rates.
Explaining the reasons behind his resolution to join the SEAL teams, Kim had said that “I didn’t like the person I was growing up to become. I needed to find myself and my identity. And for me, getting out of my comfort zone, getting away from the people I grew up with, and finding adventure, that was my odyssey, and it was the best decision I ever made.”
Kim is joining a very small group of people who have managed to become both SEALs and astronauts. Thus far, there have been only three (Kim included). The first one to earn the honor was Captain William Shepherd, who served in Underwater Demolition Team Eleven, SEAL Team One, and SEAL Team Two in the 1970s and 1980s. The second one was Captain Chris Cassidy, who served in SEAL Team Three and SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team Two — an interesting fact is that Cassidy was Brandon Webb’s platoon leader in Afghanistan.
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