US Navy Lt. Jonny Kim, a Navy SEAL and Harvard-trained physician, graduated from NASA training and became an internet celebrity. Kim said he first knew of the internet jokes after his friends and members of his Navy platoon sent him the memes. Kim said none of his career decisions were prompted by chasing medals or to seek approval, and that he makes sure that he imparts that outlook to his children. "I never want my children to ever feel like they need to be a SEAL, or that they need to go into medicine, or be an astronaut in order to please me — because I don't think that's very fair. I just want them to live their own lives." Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas joked that he felt "horribly, horribly inadequate" while speaking in front of a group of newly-graduated NASA astronauts on Friday. "What the heck have we been doing with our lives," Cruz said of himself and his Republican colleague, Sen. John Cornyn, and pointed to one of the astronauts in particular, US Navy Lt. Jonny Kim. "You're a Navy SEAL, with a degree to Harvard Medical School," Cruz said of Kim. "That's just ridiculous. I mean, he can kill you and bring you back to life — and do it all in space." Since his graduation, Kim's accomplishments have catapulted him to viral fame. "If there was a movie that came about this guy, you would've never believed it," said one of the co-hosts for the veterans-themed podcast "Zero Blog Thirty." Kim said he first knew of the jokes after his friends and members of his Navy platoon sent him the memes. "I think they're funny," Kim told Business Insider in an interview. "I don't take any of them seriously, but I appreciate the spirit and the comedy that people put into it."
Kim, a 35-year-old Los Angeles native, graduated from the latest astronaut candidate class and is now eligible to partake in NASA missions. He is the second Korean-American NASA astronaut after Mark Polansky. His resume includes Navy SEAL training and over 100 combat missions during two deployments to Iraq, where he served as a sniper, medic, and navigator; he earned a Silver Star for battlefield valor. He then graduated from the University of San Diego, where he earned a degree in mathematics; and then became an officer in the US Navy. 'I made a promise to those guys who died' Following his commission, he attended Harvard Medical School and graduated in 2017. His reason for attending one of the world's top medical schools is based on his former teammates, who were shot during a deployment to Ramadi, Iraq, in 2006. Two of his friends were killed, including one who was shot in the face. "It was one of the worst feelings of helplessness," Kim said to The Harvard Gazette in 2017. "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."
Despite an impressive portfolio, Kim said none of his career decisions were prompted by chasing medals or to seek approval, and that it is imperative to "follow your heart." "For me ... after having some intense wartime experiences where I lost a lot of good friends that I've loved, I made a promise to those guys who died — that I'd do everything in my power for the rest of my life to make this world a better place," Kim said to Business Insider. "Because those men were great human beings and they left a void." "I've chased that, going into medicine," Kim added. "It wasn't as simple as, 'I want to do this because it's an accomplishment.' It's never been that shallow for me." As a father of three kids, Kim says he makes sure he imparts that outlook on life for his children: "My only expectation, which I tell my kids very, very often, is that they follow their heart." "My kids, I love it when they tell me, 'Abba, I want to be an artist,'" Kim said, referring to the casual, Korean word for "dad." "And I say, that is awesome ... I just want you to be happy and to follow your heart." "I never want my children to ever feel like they need to be a SEAL, or that they need to go into medicine, or be an astronaut in order to please me — because I don't think that's very fair. I just want them to live their own lives. I don't hesitate at every opportunity to remind my children of that."SEE ALSO: 20 images from the biggest news of the US military in 2019 SEE ALSO: A former Navy SEAL commander has a checklist every new leader should review daily. Here's his best advice for avoiding 'imposter syndrome' and earning respect. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A former Navy SEAL commander on how to handle stress
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Meet Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, 2 'badass' astronauts, engineers, and dads poised to make history for SpaceX, NASA, and the world
SpaceX is about to launch two people to space in its first human mission since Elon...SpaceX is about to launch two people to space in its first human mission since Elon Musk founded the rocket company 18 years ago. SpaceX's new Crew Dragon spaceship will be piloted by NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley during the test flight, called Demo-2. Both men are military test pilots, engineers, members of the same NASA astronaut class, and flew on two space-shuttle missions. They each also married astronauts and have a son. Fellow astronauts describe Behnken and Hurley as deceptively intelligent and say they'd fly with either or both of them in a moment. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The ways NASA's astronaut office picks a crew from the members of its esteemed corps is something of a mystery. But with the space agency's 2018 selection of Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to fly SpaceX's now imminent rocket launch of its new Crew Dragon spaceship, the process seems obvious in hindsight. Each man graduated from the same crop of astronaut candidates in 2000. Each is an engineer and flew military aircraft. Each has flown to space twice aboard a space shuttle. Each married a fellow astronaut who's journeyed to space and fathered a son with her. Each spent years working with SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk in 2002, to perfect the commercial spaceship they will now attempt to ride to orbit. And both share the aspiration of every test pilot turned astronaut: the freak opportunity to fly a brand-new bird. "If you gave us one thing that we could have put on our list of dream jobs that we would have gotten to have someday," Behnken told reporters on May 20, "it would have been to be aboard a new spacecraft and conduct a test mission." A high-stakes resurrection, 9 years in the making On Saturday, the duo drove out to Launch Complex 39A, ascended the launchpad's tower, and sealed themselves inside the Crew Dragon. The men are scheduled to lift off at precisely 3:22 p.m. ET and slip into low-Earth orbit within 13 minutes. Then, about 19 hours after that, the crew aims to pull up to and dock with a football-field-size orbiting laboratory called the International Space Station (ISS). The plan is to stay for roughly the next 110 days before departing, careening back to Earth, and splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean. The stakes of the astronauts' mission, called Demo-2, could hardly be higher. SpaceX, though it has launched 85 and counting orbital-class Falcon 9 rockets, has never flown a single human being. NASA, meanwhile, flew its last space shuttle in July 2011. Since then, it's had no means to reach orbit except by paying Russia for seats aboard its Soyuz spacecraft — and that reliance is a problem for the US, which has sunk about $100 billion into the ISS. What led to this moment is a roughly $8 billion, 10-year public-private effort called the Commercial Crew Program. NASA awarded SpaceX about $3.14 billion of that to develop, build, and fly Crew Dragon. The joining of forces was designed to help both entities overcome the obstacles to their own success. NASA got to groom the rocket company into a reliable commercial spaceflight provider that can sell the agency tickets to orbit for its astronauts. SpaceX, for its part, is now poised to finish the program with a human-rated spacecraft that will permit it to break open a new era of commercial spaceflight for the entire world. "Unfortunately we're in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Our country has been through a lot. But this is a unique moment where all of America can take a moment and look at our country do something stunning again, and that is launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil," Jim Bridenstine, NASA's administrator, said during a Tuesday press briefing. "We're going to go to the International Space Station. And what we do there, of course, is we're transforming how we do spaceflight in general." Essential to that transformation, both years in the past and at the outset, will be the two people proving the gambit has worked. SpaceX: They're 'badass' pilots, astronauts, and dads Hurley, 53, grew up in New York near the Pennsylvania border, graduated at the top of his class in high school, and chased a civil engineering degree from Tulane University. By joining the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps, he eventually would up as a test pilot in the Marine Corps with the call sign "Chunky" — and later a member of NASA's year 2000 astronaut class. Behnken, a 49-year-old Missouri native, followed a similar path. He pursued a mechanical-engineering degree from Washington University in St. Louis, later picking up a master's degree and a doctorate in the topic from Caltech. Amid that academic work he'd joined the US Air Force's ROTC program, which led him to become a test pilot and also a member of the same class of NASA astronaut candidates. The men befriended each other in NASA's program and each flew two space-shuttle missions. Hurley's last mission, aboard space shuttle Atlantis, in July 2011, was also the final flight of NASA's program. Garrett Reisman, a former NASA astronaut who joined SpaceX in 2011 to help develop its spaceships, and is now an astronautics professor at the University of Southern California, says he knows both the men well from working with them. He even overlapped with Behnken by sharing the same doctoral adviser and trekking in nature with his future fellow astronaut. "Doug likes to play a dumb pilot, but he's actually a really smart guy," Reisman told Business Insider. "And Bob's nickname is 'Dr. Bob.'" Reisman added that Behnken "is very even-keeled" and quiet and "tries not to let his mouth get out in front of him." Reisman shared a story about being in a SpaceX meeting with Behnken in which some employees began to talk to him "like a dumb pilot" him about vehicle-control theory — which the astronaut studied for his Ph.D. "I'm sitting there laughing my my ass off because I know that he knows more about this stuff than they do," Reisman said. Behnken and Hurley's experience, tenor, and attention to detail led NASA to pick the duo and two other astronauts in 2015 as part of a "Commercial Crew Cadre." The goal: Work with SpaceX and Boeing on new commercial spaceships. It also fast-tracked them for coveted spots on Crew Dragon. During a press briefing on May 1, Gwynne Shotwell, the president and COO of SpaceX, described both men as "badass" dads, pilots, and astronauts. When later asked what makes each other a badass — and while avoiding saying the expletive — Behnken said Hurley "is ready for anything all the time" and "always prepared." "When you're going to fly into space on a test mission, you couldn't ask for a better person or a better type of individual to be there with you," Behnken said. "I'm just thankful that, doing something like this, I'm doing it with with Doug Hurley." Hurley, for his part, praised Behnken's wit. "There is no stone unturned, there's no way that he doesn't have every potential eventuality already thought about five times ahead of almost anybody else," Hurley said. "There's no question I can ask him that he doesn't already have probably the best answer for." Both say their first real jobs were working for their dads, and it wasn't fun work, but it built them up. "That's probably the hardest boss that you ever worked for is your father," Behnken said in a NASA video. Leroy Chiao, who flew to space four times as a NASA astronaut before retiring, says the reputations of Behnken and Hurley precede them. "I would certainly fly with them, either one of them or both of them, in a moment," Chiao told Business Insider. 'When you're watching, you're just a spectator' Behnken and Hurley found a lot more in NASA's 2000 astronaut class than space shuttle flights and work helping developing the first private spaceships. They also met their wives. Megan McArthur, who helped repair the Hubble Space Telescope in 2009, married Behnken. The two later had a son, Theo, who's 6 years old. Fellow astronaut Karen Nyberg, meanwhile, married Hurley and had a son Jack, who's now 11. Both women and their sons have traveled to Florida to watch Behnken and Hurley rocket to orbit. In an interview with The Washington Post's Christian Davenport, McArthur expounded on the difficulty of seeing the father of their child launch to space in a turning of the tables. "One of the hardest things to do is watch the person that you love launch into space," McArthur told The Post. "It's much harder than actually doing it yourself when you're in the rocket. You have the training. You're prepared for the mission. When you're watching, you're just a spectator. And no matter what happens, there's nothing you can do to contribute to the situation." Still, having a spouse who understands the inherent risks of launching to space has helped the couples parent their sons through what to expect. Behnken says the delays in the Commercial Crew Program — the first launch of a SpaceX or Boeing spacecraft was supposed to happen in late 2017 — have worked to their advantage in the parenting department. "We've had a lot of the conversations over the years rather than having to have them all in the last couple of weeks," he told Business Insider. "It's kind of become more routine, if you will, in terms of expectation that I would eventually be flying on a SpaceX vehicle off to the Florida coast." 'That's how we like it to be' In the early-morning hours of March 2, 2019, Musk and some NASA officials held a cursory press conference after launching Demo-1: a full launch, docking, and reentry of a Crew Dragon spaceship with a mannequin named Ripley and plush Earth toy inside. Behnken and Hurley joined the SpaceX CEO and chief designer on the dais to answer questions. Though Musk was beaming, he quickly copped to being "emotionally exhausted" from the flight, and explained all the work to come, including docking and — most worrisome to him — reentry and landing. (The mission was a total success, though the capsule was accidentally destroyed months later during a ground test.) Toward the end of the briefing, Business Insider asked Musk how, given his stress levels, he might handle the coming flight of Demo-2 — and the two astronauts sitting to his left. "I suspect it will be extremely stressful," Musk responded, looking over to Behnken and Hurley. But Musk added the Demo-1 test flight will go "a long way towards feeling good about the flight with Bob and Doug" on Demo-2. He also noted that Behnken and Hurley monitored the launch data from the control room, including the successful separation of the Crew Dragon ship from its rocket and insertion into low-Earth orbit. "I went over and asked them what what they thought," Musk said. "How do you feel about flying on it? Seems like you're feeling good about flying on it?" "You guys told us what was going to happen, and that's what happened. That's how we like it to be," Behnken interjected. SpaceX and NASA attempted a launch on Wednesday but a threat of lightning intervened. On Saturday, or whenever the mission manages to lift off in Florida's fickle weather, the astronauts will wish for similarly by-the-book behavior of their launch vehicle. But this time, with their own bodies, hopes, and dreams riding to space aboard a Dragon. This story has been updated. It was originally published on May 27, 2020.SEE ALSO: 'We've grown up': SpaceX's failures have prepared the rocket company to launch NASA astronauts for the first time, says president Gwynne Shotwell DON'T MISS: An astronaut who's about to launch on SpaceX's first human mission reveals what impresses him most about the company, and it's not the rockets or the spaceships Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Elon Musk's multibillion-dollar Starship rocket could one day take people to the moon and Mars
'We'll let you know how it works out': SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship toilet is a secret that apparently no one can or wants to talk about
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are scheduled to become the first people to rocket...NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are scheduled to become the first people to rocket into space from US soil since the shuttle program ended in 2011. Behnken and Hurley will climb aboard SpaceX's Crew Dragon on Wednesday, May 27 and — weather permitting —lift off at 4:33 pm ET from Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. If all goes well, the pair will spend a day inside the spacecraft before docking at the International Space Station is complete. There is a toilet aboard their spacecraft, but no one seems to want to talk about it — though a former NASA astronaut who helped develop Crew Dragon told Business Insider it's located above the astronauts' heads. The commode is likely a basic hose setup and not too different from what's on the Russian Soyuz. "We'll let you know how it works out," Hurley said. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Ever since the first US astronaut visited space, 59 years ago, NASA has struggled to find clean, comfortable ways to get people restroom facilities in space. The first options were rather crude, makeshift solutions that resulted in some big messes. Alan Shepherd, the first person in space, peed in his pants on the launchpad in 1961, but luckily was "totally dry by the time we launched," he later said. The Apollo astronauts had to use roll-on cuffs to pee, and plastic bags for everything else. Sometimes waste escaped, and floated around. After the Apollo missions ended in 1975, engineers described defecation and urination as the "bothersome aspects of space travel." Even now, as two NASA astronauts — Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken — prepare to lift off from American soil for the first time since the US Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, it appears that space toilets have become no less bothersome. No officials with SpaceX or NASA would tell to Business Insider exactly where the toilet on Crew Dragon is located in the commercial spaceship or how it works. There are also no indications about where a toilet might be located in any of the publicly available technical drawings of the spacecraft. "That toilet? Ah, we'll let you know how it works out," Hurley told reporters earlier this month. "They have one. We're going to — we'll try it out, and we'll let you know when we get back." The mystery of SpaceX's proprietary toilet The commode is a rather important part of the launch plan, since Hurley and Behnken will spend nearly a whole day together locked in the Dragon capsule, before they reach the International Space Station. NASA declined to provide Business Insider with any details on the new space toilet. "Since that's a SpaceX system, the SpaceX PAOs [public affairs officers] would be the ones to ask on this," Brandi Dean, a spokesperson at NASA's Johnson Space Center said when asked where the toilet was. SpaceX did not acknowledge Business Insider's query about the toilet. Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president of mission assurance — the person in charge of safety and reliability for the flight — declined to provide basic information about the Crew Dragon's new commode during a May 25 press briefing. "I'm not going to ... I don't know the potty answer to the potty question, so I'm going to skip ahead," he told Business Insider, when asked about the toilet's basic location and functionality. Although Crew Dragon was built with the help of about $3.14 billion in taxpayer money, the spaceship was privately developed and many of its systems are considered proprietary secrets. But the truth is probably that SpaceX didn't want to waste precious capsule space on a big space toilet, and the setup is likely a rudimentary hose and bag system, much like what is on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. What we've pieced together so far is that the commode is located somewhere above the astronauts' heads Former NASA astronaut Garrett Reisman, who worked for many years on the development of SpaceX's Dragon spaceships, told Business Insider that the toilet is near the top of the capsule. "I don't know if the toilet is really cool, necessarily, but it is there," he said. "I can tell you it's located — in one-G [Earth gravity] — would be towards the ceiling. But of course in zero-G [microgravity] that doesn't matter." The Crew Dragon, which can seat seven people, is a larger vessel than the Russian Soyuz capsule, which has three very snug seats. Since terminating the space shuttle program nearly nine years ago, NASA astronauts have been paying Russia to get to space. The Soyuz is equipped with a rudimentary hose system that astronaut Chris Hadfield called "basic," adding that astronauts get two enemas before they launch with the hope they don't have to use it at all. But there is still not a ton of space on this 13-foot-wide SpaceX capsule to hide a toilet. It's unclear how exactly the system works, but it must be a much smaller setup than the relatively enormous throne astronauts used previously on the Space Shuttle: Going to the bathroom in space is no easy task Retired NASA Astronaut Peggy Whitson previously told Business Insider that going to the bathroom was easily the worst part about life in space (being able to float is the best part, she said.) Engineering toilets to function in microgravity is no easy task, and some of the very first hose hookups were only designed for men. The US most recently spent $19 million on a Russian toilet for the ISS, rather than bothering to make its own system, and that throne is still pretty tricky to use. Astronauts have to practice their aim over a tiny cup-sized hole before they leave Earth, using a camera for alignment, and learning how to hook up the necessary hose and baggie systems. If SpaceX could figure out how to engineer a better outer space bathroom system, astronauts would be a little more comfortable in space, and, eventually, on their journeys out to Mars. But for now, the company seems intent on keeping whatever improvements or upgrades it may have — or not — provided to space bathrooms in a vacuum removed from public knowledge. Read more in A brief history of how astronauts have gone to the bathroom in space, from peeing in a 'roll-on cuff' to pooping into a bag.SEE ALSO: 'We've grown up': SpaceX's failures have prepared the rocket company to launch NASA astronauts for the first time, says president Gwynne Shotwell DON'T MISS: SpaceX is set to launch astronauts on Wednesday. Here's how Elon Musk's company became NASA's best shot at resurrecting American spaceflight. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why NASA spacesuits are so expensive
Robert Crippen is the only living NASA astronaut to have flown on a new spacecraft for...Robert Crippen is the only living NASA astronaut to have flown on a new spacecraft for the first time. The Crew Dragon flyers will join his elite club this week.