Meet Two Incredibly Badass Asian Americans Who Could Be NASA’s Next Astronauts


Dr. Jonny Kim and Raja Chari are two impressive Asian Americans who made it into NASA’s 2017 astronaut candidate class, having been chosen from a pool of over 18,000 applicants.

The top 12 astronaut candidates, whose names were announced on Wednesday, will report to Johnson Space Center in Houston in August to complete two years of training.

Robert Lightfoot delivers remarks during an event where NASA introduced 12 new astronaut candidates, Kayla Barron, Zena Cardman, Raja Chari, Matthew Dominick, Robert Hines, Warren Hoburg, Jonathan Kim, Robb Kulin, Jasmin Moghbeli, Loral O’Hara, Francisco Rubio and Jessica Watkins at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. After completing two years of training, the new astronaut candidates could be assigned to missions performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and launching on deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket. Photo Credit: (NASA/James Blair)

According to NASA’s official website, they will then be “assigned to missions performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and flying on deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.”

Dr. Kim is a trained Navy SEAL and is completing his residency in emergency medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“We’re just happy to be here,” Kim told Phys.org.

It “may be a little unclear” what his fellow astronauts will do in the future in terms of which spacecraft they might fly, he added.

NASA also selected Raja Chari, a Lieutenant Colonel with the U.S. Air Force.

According to his bio, Chari was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

He later earned a Master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

Sorry, ladies and gentlemen, Chari is married and a dad to three children.

The Iowa native has a number of awards and honors including the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal, a Korean Defense Service Medal and the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal.

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