Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari, an Indian-American US Air Force colonel, is among 18 astronauts selected by NASA for its manned mission to the Moon and beyond. The 18 astronauts, comprising of nine men and nine women, have been chosen for the mission under NASA’s Artemis program.
Raja 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. According to reports, Chari’s father Sreenivas V Chari had immigrated to the US from Hyderabad. The Indian-American astronaut was raised in Iowa, a Midwestern US state, and served as a colonel in the US Air Force. Chari has a bachelor’s degree in astronautical engineering and a master’s in aeronautics and astronautics. Chari had reportedly joined the astronaut corps in 2017. He reported for duty in August 2017 and having completed the initial astronaut candidate training is now eligible for a mission assignment.
The modern lunar exploration programme will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024 and establish a sustainable human lunar presence by the end of the decade, the American space agency said. The astronauts on the Artemis Team come from a diverse range of backgrounds, expertise and experience. Most of the astronauts in the group are in their 30s or 40s. The oldest is 55, the youngest 32. NASA will announce flight assignments for astronauts later, pulling from the Artemis Team. Additional Artemis Team members, including international partner astronauts, will join this group, as needed.