The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has introduced 12 newest astronauts of the Astronaut Candidate Class 2017. The members were shortlisted from 18,300 applicants and among the selected 12 is Indian-American Lt Col Raja Chari. The team comprises of six military officers, three scientists, two medical doctors, a lead engineer at SpaceX and a NASA research pilot. The candidates will go through a training of two years before being sent into orbit and will report for duty in August 2017.
NASA Astronauts’ official Twitter handle shared it.
Here’s everything you need to know about Raja Chari:
- Chari was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and was raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He married Holly Schaffter Chari and the couple is blessed with three children.
- He graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and earned his bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering and Engineering Science from the US Air Force Academy. He earned his Master’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
- During the selection month, Chari was serving as the Colonel-select in the US Air Force as the Commander of the 461stFlight Test Squadron and the Director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force.
- He has accumulated above 2,000 hours of flight time in the F-35, F-15, F-16 and F-18. He also has an experience in flying F-15E combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployments in support of the Korean peninsula.
- After completion of the two year NASA training, he will be allotted technical duties in the Astronaut office while he awaits flight assignment.
- After Kalpana Chawla, he is the first Indian-American to be chosen by NASA for its missions.
- He has several awards to his credit such as 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. Named distinguished graduate from the US Air Force Academy, Undergraduate Pilot Training, and the F-15E Formal Training Unit.