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From Sea to Space: NASA Selects Two Sailors for 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class

Two Sailors are on their way to join the growing list of Navy astronauts!

NASA announced June 7 that Lt. Kayla Barron and Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick were selected from a record breaking 18,300 applicants to join its 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class of just 12 people.

Barron and Dominick as well as their fellow astronaut candidates will return to Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, in August to begin two years of training. Then, they could be assigned to any of a variety of missions, including: performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and departing for deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

Get to know Barron and Dominick below!

Lt. Kayla Barron

As a submarine warfare officer, Lt. Kayla Barron was a member of the first class of women to join the submarine community. The Washington native graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor’s degree in Systems Engineering in 2010. A Gates Cambridge Scholar, Barron earned a Master’s degree in Nuclear Engineering from the University of Cambridge.

Lt. Kayla Barron (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)
Lt. Kayla Barron (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)


Her graduate research focused on modeling the fuel cycle for a next-generation, thorium-fueled nuclear reactor concept. Following graduate school, Barron attended the Navy’s nuclear power and submarine officer training before being assigned to USS Maine (SSBN 741), an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine homeported in Bangor, Washington. Barron qualified as a submarine warfare officer and completed three strategic deterrent patrols while serving as a division officer aboard Maine. At the time of her selection, Barron was serving as the Naval Academy’s superintendent’s flag aide.

Barron has been awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various unit commendations. She is a Trident Scholar and distinguished graduate of the Naval Academy.

Upon completion of two years of training as an astronaut candidate, Barron will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office while she awaits a flight assignment.

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick, a Colorado native, earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of San Diego and a Master of Science degree in Systems Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School. He graduated from U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. He has accumulated more than 1,600 flight hours in 28 aircraft models, 400 carrier arrestments, 61 combat missions and nearly 200 flight test carrier landings (arrested and touch-and-go).

Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)
Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Dominick (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of NASA)


Dominick was commissioned through the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps following graduation from the University of San Diego in 2005 and reported to Pensacola, Florida, for flight training. He was designated as a naval aviator in 2007 and reported to Strike Fighter Squadron 106, Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia, for transition to the F/A‑18E Super Hornet. Following his initial training, Dominick was assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 143. He made two deployments to the North Arabian Sea, flying close air support missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. While with Strike Fighter Squadron 143, Dominick was selected to attend the Naval Postgraduate School / U.S. Naval Test Pilot School Co-Operative Program, where he earned a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from the Naval Post Graduate School and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

Designated a developmental test pilot in 2013, Dominick was assigned to the fixed wing carrier suitability flight test department of Air Test Evaluation Squadron 23. There, he served as developmental flight test project officer for a variety of carrier suitability test programs, including MAGIC CARPET, Joint Precision Approach & Landing Systems, Infrared Search and Track Pod, and the precision approach and landing certification of aircraft carriers. He flew developmental flight tests in the F/A-18ABCD, F/A-18E/F, and EA-18G. Additionally, he contributed to the X-47B (Unmanned Carrier Launched Surveillance and Strike), V‑22, T-45, E-2C, C-2A and F-35C test programs.

In 2016, Dominick returned to an operational naval squadron, Strike Fighter Squadron 115, flying F/A-18E Super Hornets in the forward deployed naval forces stationed in Atsugi, Japan.

At the time of his selection as an astronaut candidate in June 2017, Dominick was at sea aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) serving as the department head for Strike Fighter Squadron 115.

Dominick was the 2015 Naval Test Wing Atlantic Test Pilot of the Year. He has been awarded the Strike Flight Air Medal (three awards); Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards)

Upon completion of two years of training as an astronaut candidate, Dominick will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office while he awaits a flight assignment. U.S. Navy