Indian-American US Air Force colonel Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari is among 18 astronauts who have been selected by National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for its next ambitious manned mission to the Moon in 2024 for the first time since 1970s.
Nine men and nine women have been chosen under NASA’s Artemis program. The lunar exploration program will land the first woman and next man on the moon and establish a sustainable human lunar presence by the end of the decade.
Raja Chari, 43, is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and US Naval Test Pilot School and the only Indian-American in the list. He was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. He was among 11 new NASA graduates who successfully completed their over two years’ of basic astronaut training in January 2020.
Chari’s father had migrated from Hyderabad to the United States at an early age to earn an engineering degree.
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