Former Navy SEAL, Harvard Doctor Becomes First Korean-American NASA Astronaut

Dr. Jonny Kim, a SAMOHI graduate, Navy Seal and now astronaut. Photo: Courtesy Jonny Kim (Facebook).
Facebook/Jonny Kim

A 35-year-old former Navy SEAL and graduate of Harvard Medical School added yet another accomplishment to his list by becoming the first Korean-American NASA astronaut.

Jonny Kim, along with 12 others in his class, graduated last week from NASA’s Artemis training program, which prepares astronauts to participate in spaceflight missions to the International Space Station, the moon, or someday even Mars.

NASA said that Kim’s class was selected from a pool of 18,000 applicants.

Kim told NASA in a 2017 interview that he was a born a child of “South Korean immigrants who came to America in the early ’80s for the hope of a better life for their children.”

After Kim graduated high school in Los Angeles, he joined the Navy as a seaman recruit and worked his way up to become a Navy SEAL.

NASA said Kim served as a combat medic, navigator, and sniper on more than 100 combat missions on two Middle East deployments.

Kim went on to earn a degree in mathematics from the University of San Diego before continuing his education to receive a doctorate of medicine from Harvard Medical School.

When he was selected to become an astronaut in 2017, Kim served as a resident physician at a hospital in Massachusetts.

Kim told NASA in an interview that he wanted to become an astronaut because he “fundamentally believed in the NASA mission of advancing our space frontier all the while developing innovation and new technologies that would benefit all of humankind.”


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