Raja Chari is the first American of Indian descent after Kalpana Chawla to be selected by NASA for a space mission. Chari has found a place among 12 new astronauts chosen by the American space agency to join the Astronaut Candidate Class 2017. He is scheduled to report for duty in August this year, where he will begin two years of training as an Astronaut Candidate. When the class is completed, Chari will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office till he gets a flight assignment. At the time of his selection this month, Chari was serving as a Colonel-select in the US Air Force. He served as the Commander of a Flight Test Squadron and the Director of an Integrated Test Force.
Chari was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He is married to Holly Schaffter Chari and they have three children. His mother’s name is Peggy Chari. In 1999, Chari had graduated from the US Air Force Academy with a Bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He then went on to earn a Master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School, as well as from US Army Command and General Staff College. He was named as a distinguished graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Undergraduate Pilot Training, and the F-15E Formal Training Unit.
Chari has accumulated more than 2,000 hours of flight time in fighter jets like the F-35, F-15, F-16, and F-18. He also has experience in flying F-15E combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployments in support of the Korean peninsula.
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When it comes to awards, Raja Chari has a number of them:
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
The 22nd class of American spaceflight trainees is the biggest group Nasa has selected in over 20 years. The 12 people selected consists of seven men and five women. These people were chosen from a record number of 18,300 applicants, again the biggest ever for a Nasa open astronaut call. In order to get selected, participants had to meet some physical requirements alongside fulfilling experience and education criteria. Experience and education qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and accumulation of around 1,000 hours of flying jets.
After completing two years of training, the new astronaut candidates could be assigned to missions performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and flying on deep space missions on Nasa’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.