Artemis Team to help land first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024.
Indian American Raja Chari is one of 18 astronauts chosen by NASA to form the Artemis Team and help pave the way for the next lunar missions including landing the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024.
Vice President Mike Pence introduced the members of the Artemis Team Wednesday during the eighth National Space Council meeting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“I give you the heroes who will carry us to the Moon and beyond – the Artemis Generation,” said Pence.
“It is amazing to think that the next man and first woman on the Moon are among the names that we just read. The Artemis Team astronauts are the future of American space exploration – and that future is bright.”
The astronauts on the Artemis Team come from a diverse range of backgrounds, expertise, and experience.
Besides landing the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024, US space agency’s modern lunar exploration program will establish a sustainable human lunar presence by the end of the decade.
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.
Chari, a colonel in the US Air Force, joined the astronaut corps in 2017. Raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa, he graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1999 with bachelor’s degrees in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science.
Chari went on to earn a master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The US Naval Test Pilot School graduate worked on F-15E upgrades and then the F-35 development program, before coming to NASA.
Currently awaiting flight assignment, Chari’s honors include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal, a Korean Defense Service Medal and the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal.
Married to Holly Schaffter Chari, also a Cedar Falls native, the couple has three children. His mother, Peggy Chari, lives in Cedar Falls, Iowa.
The astronauts of the Artemis Team will help NASA prepare for the coming Artemis missions, which begin next year working with the agency’s commercial partners as they develop human landing systems, NASA said.
They would also help in the development of training, defining hardware requirements and consulting on technical development besides engaging the public and industry on the Artemis program and NASA’s exploration plans.
“There is so much exciting work ahead of us as we return to the moon, and it will take the entire astronaut corps to make that happen,” Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester said.
“Walking on the lunar surface would be a dream come true for any one of us, and any part we can play in making that happen is an honor.
“I am proud of this particular group of men and women and know that any of them would do an outstanding job representing NASA and the United States on a future Artemis mission,” Forrester said.