Indian American astronaut spent 177 days in orbit as commander of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission
Indian American astronaut Raja J Chari, a member of NASA’s Artemis moon mission, has been nominated by President Joe Biden for promotion to the rank of Air Force brigadier general, US defense department announced Thursday.
Currently an Air Force Colonel, Chari’s appointment to the higher grade will have to be confirmed by the Senate which approves all senior civilian and military appointments.
Read: Indian-American astronaut Raja Chari takes first spacewalk (March 17, 2022)
Son of an immigrant father from Hyderabad, India, Chari, 45, served as commander of the NASA SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station (ISS), which launched on Nov 10, 2021.
He spent 177 days in orbit on the ISS as part of Expedition 66 and 67 before returning to Earth on May 6, 2022, completing the agency’s third long-duration commercial crew mission.
During his time on the Space Station he served as a flight engineer and performed two spacewalks and helped in capturing and releasing three SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and two Cygnus cargo vehicles.
Raja Chari was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. At that time he was a Colonel select in the US Air Force, serving as the Commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the Director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force.
Read: Indian American astronaut Raja Chari all set for first space flight (October 28, 2021)
He has accumulated more than 2,500 hours of flight time in the F-35, F-15, F-16, and F-18 including F-15E combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployments in support of the Korean peninsula. At NASA, Chari has served as the Director of the Joint Test Team for the NASA Commercial Crew Program.
The Iowa native graduated from the US Air Force Academy in Colorado in 1999 with a bachelor’s degrees in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science, according to his official biography.
He went on to earn a master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
He is a graduate of the US Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland and the US Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Chari has been awarded 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.
Read: Indian-American astronaut Raja Chari elevated to key rank in US Air Force; who is he (January 27, 2023)
He was named a distinguished graduate from the US Air Force Academy, Undergraduate Pilot Training, and the F-15E Formal Training Unit.
Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Chari was raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He is married to Holly Schaffter Chari, also a Cedar Falls native, and the couple has three children.
Read: Indian American astronaut Raja Chari greets India on Independence Day (August 15, 2022)
Read: Indian American astronaut Raja Chari reaches Space Station (November 12, 2021)