After Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams, astronaut Raja Chari is another prominent NASA astronaut with India connection.
Who is astronaut Raja Chari? An Indian-American US Air Force colonel. But, most importantly, one of the 18 astronauts named for NASA’s ambitious manned mission to the Moon and beyond, scheduled in 2024, also known as Artemis.
Half of the 18 astronauts selected for NASA’s Artemis Moon-landing project are women. The space agency will train these 18 astronauts for the Moon mission. They come from a diverse range of backgrounds, expertise and experience.
Most of these astronauts are in their 30s and 40s. The oldest among them is aged 55, while the youngest is 32. The team includes Pat Forrester, who is Chief Astronaut. Apart from that, other members on the list include Christina Koch and Jessica Meir, the two astronauts who performed the world’s first all-female spacewalk in 2019.
These astronauts will help NASA prepare for the coming Artemis mission, which begins next year in collaboration with the space agency’s commercial partners.
The space agency and its commercial partners together will develop human landing systems, assist in the development of training, will define hardware requirements, and consult on technical development. They will also engage the public and industry on NASA’s exploration plans.
This modern lunar exploration project will land the first-ever woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024. Also, this project will explore the prospect and sustainability of human lunar presence by 2030, as NASA said.
Finland-based telecommunication giant Nokia has bagged a $14.1 million funding from NASA to set up a 4G cellphone network on the Moon. This is a part of the slew of $370 million contracts announced by NASA a few weeks ago.
Setting up a 4G network will enhance the communication between the earth control centre and moon mission team during the Artemis program, which is going to be the first NASA manned moon landing program after the December 1972 Apollo 17 mission.
NASA will announce the flight assignments for these team of astronauts later. Besides that, additional Artemis Team members, including international partner astronauts will also join this group, as required.
Astronaut Raja Chari, aged 43, is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and US Naval Test Pilot School. He is the only Indian-American in the list of 18 astronauts selected for the Artemis program.
Astronaut Raja Chari was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class and reported for duty in August 2017. After completion of his initial astronaut candidate training, Chari is now eligible for a mission assignment.
After Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams, astronaut Raja Chari is another prominent name among the Indian-American astronauts.