To Meet the Moon

USD alumnus and astronaut Jonny Kim in a space suit in training.


It’s been nearly half a century since humankind last visited the moon, when the three-person crew of NASA’s Apollo 17 mission touched down near the edge of an ancient lava sea called Mare Serenitatis.

Now, the space agency is again bound for the lunar surface. The Artemis Team is described by NASA as “a select group of astronauts charged with focusing on the development and training efforts for early Artemis missions.” Through these missions, NASA will send the first woman and the next man to the moon in 2024 and about once per year thereafter.

On Dec. 9 2020, the agency revealed which of its 47 active astronauts have been assigned to Artemis to train for humanity’s historic return to the moon.

Among that distinguished group are two University of San Diego alumni: Matthew Dominick ’05 (BS/BA) and Jonathan (“Jonny”) Kim ’12 (BA). Both Dominick  and Kim (pictured, above) are now members of a very exclusive community. Before long, they’ll be charting new courses in human history.

USD alumnus Matthew Dominick points at a computer screen while training to be an astronaut.

Matthew Dominck ’05 (BS/BA)

When Dominick found out that Kim, another University of San Diego alumnus, would be joining the astronaut class back in 2017, he was frankly amazed.

“I was super-shocked when I found out,” he said. Although the two didn’t attend USD at the same time, they did subsequently discover some mutual friends and acquaintances.

“I learned so many skills from the military, but I learned soft skills from my time at USD,” says Kim.

“I learned how to communicate and how to appreciate other perspectives. I learned the scientific method, which can be applied to any problem in life. Having the evidence show you the answer and having the humility to accept that you might be wrong. Those are principles to academia, but they’re also principles to being a good human being.”

Dominick was fascinated by all things skyward from a young age.

“Watching rockets launch, watching the shuttle launch as a kid, was an enabler for me. It’s like ‘How do I become a part of that?’” After graduating from USD, he did his post-graduate work as a naval test pilot.

“It’s certainly a sacrifice for family and friends, being in the military. We would go on deployments and lose contact with them, and they understood the risk that we were taking,” Dominick says. “When you think about the immense responsibility put on you at times, you don’t want to let the world down.”

“It makes me immensely proud to be part of an organization to achieve such a monumental challenge, like returning to the moon,” says Kim. “And that’s what really excites me, when I think of Artemis. The lives that we’re going to positively impact on this endeavor.”

The pair are both ready for their next adventure. “My previous job was to keep the world from going backwards. This job is about getting the world to go forward,” says Dominick.

“I am an astronaut,” says Kim. “And I have this amazing opportunity to serve my country and humanity.”Julene Snyder

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