Who Is Raja Chari- An Indian-American Astronaut To Lead SpaceX Crew 3

“A pretty glorious sight” for Raja Chari and a pretty proud moment for all Indians as Dragon reached to space. The Space X 3 capsule that carried 4 astronauts was blasted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center yesterday. It is led by an Indian-American Raja Chari, the first rookie astronaut leading a space mission after 48 years since 1973.

His technical knowledge and great leadership qualities earned him this position. But there’s more to know about this 44-year old commander.

Who Is Raja Chari?

raja chari

Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari is a test pilot and Colonel in United States Air Force. In 2017, he was selected as an Astronaut in Group 22 of NASA. He got professional training for 2 years and was later selected in Artemis, a US-led international human spaceflight program.

Chari is also the first to be selected as a commander of a Space Mission after the Skylab 4 mission, 1973.

Early Life And Education

Raja was born to Sreenivas V Chari and Peggy Egbert on 24 June 1977 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He got his primary education in Iowa from Columbus High School. Chari joined U.S Air Force Academy to earn his bachelor’s degree in 1999. He graduated with a Bachelor in Science in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science.

In 2001, he completed his post-graduation from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering.

Also Read: Know The Indian-American, Leading NASA’s Mars Rover Perseverance

Career And Achievements

raja chari

Raja Chari gained early pilot training soon after his graduation from Vance Air Force Base in Oklahoma. He got training to fly F-35, F-15, F-16, and F-18 fighter jets for more than 2500 hours and was also a part of the Iraq War where he flew the F-15E Strike Eagle jet.

During his Air Force Career, Chari served as an Exchange officer, development test pilot, and CENTCOM time-sensitive targeting officer.

While serving as a commanding officer of 461 Flight Test Squadron, Chari got selected as a NASA astronaut. Raja Chari has earned several awards and honors during his career in USAF. List of his achievements and accolades include

• Defense Meritorious Service Medal
• Meritorious Service Medal
• Aerial Achievement Medal
• Air Force Commendation Medal
• Air Force Achievement Medal
• Iraq Campaign Medal
• Korean Defense Service Medal
• Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal

Chari has tied the knot to Holly Schaffter and has three children. Raja Chari has the vast technical knowledge and his leadership quality earned him this position in Space X Crew 3 mission. His crew member Tom Marshburn, Barron, Maurer is very much confident of him leading and said “he’s very impressive.”

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About SpaceX Crew 3 Mission

Space X’s Dragon capsule flew off from Florida on Wednesday along with 4 members, 400 pounds of hardware, and other supplies necessary to conduct experiments. They will do testing and research in health technologies, materials science, and plant science.

Their study will be useful to prepare humans for space experience. The Space X 3 crew will return to Earth next year in April.

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