Indian-Origin Astronaut Raja Chari is among the 18 astronauts who will be training for NASA’s Artemis Programme.
NASA announced the list of these 18 astronauts on 9 December and it holds the name of Indian-American Raja Chari. 43-year-old Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari is a US Air Force colonel with the flight time of over 2,000 hours.
Let’s know more about Raja Chari and Artemis programme!
Migration to the US
Chari’s father, Srinivas V Chari, left Hyderabad at a young age to earn an engineering degree in the US. Chari explains the importance of education that his family instilled in him from a young age as a result of a studious home environment.
He explains, “There was a focus throughout my childhood on education and that you really needed to do well to succeed.”
While he was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he went on to graduate from the US Air Force Academy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and US Naval Test Pilot School.
He is the only Indian-American astronaut on the list NASA released for the moon-landing programme. The space agency selected him to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. He is now eligible for a mission assignment after completing the initial training.
Selection in NASA’s Artemis programme
Chari secured a position in NASA’s Artemis programme after beating 18,000 applicants in 2017. He would be the third Indian-American in the space after Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams.
Chari tweeted, “Proud to be a small part of the huge NASA team working to get humans to the moon to stay. We need explorers, engineers and dreamers to get #Artemis there.”
Chari talks about his journey of becoming an astronaut in a video which NASA Aeronautics shared.
“If I ask my mom, she definitely has memories of me as a child talking about being an astronaut. I always knew I wanted to do something related to aviation. But at the same time, I think I also started to tell myself it wasn’t really possible because it was just something they’ll get let down from.”
The Artemis Programme
While NASA has dedicated its Artemis Programme to sending the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024, its main objective is to unlock the mysteries of the moon.
It will send the astronauts aboard the Orion spacecraft through their new powerful rocket, Space Launch System (SLS).
The main goal of the Artemis programme is to explore the surface of the moon with human and robotic explorers. After starting with the lunar South Pole, they will send astronauts to new locations at the Moon.
Astronauts are going to see if they can find and use water on the Moon along with other critical resources for long term exploration. They will strive to learn the mysteries of the moon, while at the same time learning more about the Earth and the universe.
NASA named this programme after Artemis, goddess of the hunt. Artemis is also the twin sister to Apollo, which in this case becomes a reference to the project Apollo.
So that’s all for today! Until next time!