As NASA prepares for upcoming missions — including the 2024 Artemis mission, through which NASA will build a base at the moon — recent graduates from NASA’s basic training program await their …
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As NASA prepares for upcoming missions — including the 2024 Artemis mission, through which NASA will build a base at the moon — recent graduates from NASA’s basic training program await their first assignments to space.
The 2017 Class of Astronauts, which graduated at a ceremony in Jan. 2020, included Matthew Dominick, who grew up in Wheat Ridge and graduated from D’Evelyn High School in 2000. Dominick interviewed with Colorado Community Media about his role at NASA and what the future has in store.
What was your path to becoming an astronaut?
I always wanted to explore and understand the world around me. I think every child has that. I went to the University of San Diego to study engineering and I liked the idea of going fast and flying, so in 2005, I joined the Navy and became a test pilot. I realized that if you want to go higher and faster than airplanes, you’ve got to go to space. I started applying for initial training (with NASA) in 2016.
Can you list some of the skills you’ve developed?
I think of it as astronaut boot camp. We’ve got to learn how to work together in high-stress situations, we study Russian, we take geology classes because if we go to the moon and are communicating back to geologists, we have to be able to use their language. We have to practice space walks because if your spaceship breaks, you have to go out and repair it. And our training never ends; I could be assigned to a mission in the next couple of years. My job is ultimately to go to space, so I keep up all of my skills.
Now that you’ve graduated, what’s next?
All of us have ground jobs and we rotate through who’s in space at each time. Right now, I’m working on three new spaceships that haven’t gone to space before. Most of the time, a test pilot is sitting down with engineers and asking questions. We work through how we’re going to launch this for the first time and run scenarios in the simulator.
What else in your life has changed since high school?
I work with a bunch of very incredible people, and then I go home to my wife and two daughters and we continue exploring at home. I’m going to an event with my older daughter this weekend where we’re going to launch rockets with all of her friends. I love watching my daughters’ little minds explore the world.
Looking back, what stands out to you?
This is an exciting time for space and space exploration and Colorado’s invested in these projects. This is a really good time to pick up an encyclopedia or do that Wikipedia deep dive on where we are in space exploration. That would be my recommendation to young people and to anybody.
— Interview was condensed and edited for clarity.
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