When NASA on Wednesday announced names of 18 astronauts selected for its manned mission to the Moon and beyond, Indians had one more reason to cheer. That is because an Indian-American who had made it to the list of 18 astronauts selected by NASA.
Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari, 43, a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, MIT, and US Naval Test Pilot School, is the only Indian-American in the list.
He was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. He reported for duty in August 2017 and having completed the initial astronaut candidate training is now eligible for a mission assignment.
With his name in the list, Ravi Chari has become the third Indian-American to go to space. Besides them, Rakesh Sharma remains the only Indian citizens to have been in the space.
Here is a list of all Indian and Indian-origin astronauts who went to space
1. Rakesh Sharma
Rakesh Sharma was the first Indian astronaut to go in space. He spent 7 days 21 hours and 40 minutes aboard the Salyut 7 orbital station. He is the only Indian citizen to travel in space, although there have been other astronauts with an Indian background who were not Indian citizens.
Sharma himself sent the entire country into a tizzy when, in reply to the prime minister India Gandhi’s query on how India looked from space, he quoted the poet Iqbal’s immortal lines, “Saare jahan se achcha.” (better than the whole world).’
2. Kalpana Chawala
Kalpana Chawla was the first India-born woman to enter space. Chawla died with her six crewmates aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 2003. She first flew on Space Shuttle Columbia in 1997 as a mission specialist and primary robotic arm operator. In 2003, Chawla was one of the seven crew members who died in the Columbia disaster when the spacecraft disintegrated during its re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.
3. Sunita Williams
Sunita Williams is an American astronaut and the United States Navy officer who formerly held the records for most spacewalks by a woman (seven) and most spacewalk time for a woman (50 hours, 40 minutes).
Williams was assigned to the International Space Station as a member of Expedition 14 and Expedition 15. In 2012, she served as a flight engineer on Expedition 32 and then commander of Expedition.
Sunita Williams was born in Euclid, Ohio, to Indian American neuroanatomist Deepak Pandya and Slovene American Ursuline Bonnie.