35-year-old former Navy SEAL is NASA’s 1st Korean-Am astronaut

Jonny Kim, a graduate of medicine from Harvard University and a former Navy SEAL, is making history as he becomes the first Korean-American astronaut. He would soon be headed to the International Space Station (ISS).

The former Navy SEAL graduated from the latest astronaut candidate class after completing the agency’s two-year Artemis astronaut training program on January 10. He is now eligible to partake in NASA missions.

As a former Navy SEAL, Kim has 100 combat missions during two deployments to Iraq under his belt. He served as a sniper, combat medic, and navigator. He also earned a Silver Star for battlefield valor during his tour. A University of San Diego graduate, he earned a degree in mathematics in 2012.

Speaking during an interview, the former Navy SEAL divulged that he attended Harvard Medical School after his former teammates were shot in active combat. His inability to assist them was one of the worst feelings of helplessness in his life. He said:

There wasn’t much I could do, just make sure his bleeding wasn’t obstructing his airway, making sure he was positioned well. He needed a surgeon. He needed a physician and I did eventually get him to one, but that feeling of helplessness was very profound for me.

After graduating in from Havard in 2017, the former Navy SEAL proceeded to beat a reported 18,000 applicants to join NASA’s astronaut program that same year.

Senator Ted Cruz speech on the former Navy SEAL

Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who was invited to deliver a speech at a ceremony held in honor of a group of newly-graduated NASA astronauts, said he felt “horribly, horribly inadequate” to be in their midst.

While speaking in front of the newly-graduated NASA astronauts, Senator Cruz openly expressed his astonishment towards the former Navy SEAL accomplishment.

Senator Cruz said:

You’re a Navy SEAL, with a degree to Harvard Medical School. That’s just ridiculous. I mean, he can kill you and bring you back to life and do it all in space.

Other NASA personnel making history

Jonny Kim isn’t the only NASA personnel setting a new course in history. Astronaut Christina Koch broke the record for the longest spaceflight by a woman in history in December. She surpassed the record of Peggy Whitson, a former astronaut who spent 289 days, 5 hours, and 1 minute in space in 2017.

Also, Koch has been on the International Space Station since March 14, 2019, and is expected to remain aboard the satellite until February 2020, according to her NASA biography. Her mission was initially supposed to last six months, but it was extended by NASA to study the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body.

Additionally, in October, both Koch and astronaut Jessica Meir performed the first-ever all-female spacewalk. The two female astronauts spent over seven hours fixing a faulty power controller outside of the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA Engineer Johanna Lucht also set a new record as the first deaf engineer to carry out an active role in a NASA control center during a crew flight test.