Raja Chari


Raja Chari
SpaceX Crew-3 Commander Raja Chari.jpg
Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari

(1977-06-24) June 24, 1977 (age 44)
Alma materUnited States Air Force Academy (BS)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MS)
Space career
NASA Astronaut
Current occupation
Fighter pilot
RankColonel, USAF
Time in space
SelectionNASA Group 22
Total EVAs
MissionsSpaceX Crew-3 (Expedition 66)
Mission insignia
SpaceX Crew-3 logo.png ISS Expedition 66 Patch.png

Raja Jon Vurputoor "Grinder" Chari (born June 24, 1977; Colonel, United States Air Force) is an American test pilot and NASA astronaut. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, and has over 2,000 flying hours.

Early life and education

Chari was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Peggy Egbert and Sreenivas V Chari, a settler from Telangana, India.[1][2] He was raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa and attended Columbus High School, graduating in 1995. He attended the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and graduated in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science, with a Minor in Mathematics. Following his graduation, Chari attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a Draper Fellow, earning a Master of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering in 2001.

Air Force career

Following completion of his graduate studies, Chari attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. He attended F-15E Strike Eagle training at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina and was subsequently stationed at Elmendorf AFB, Alaska and RAF Lakenheath, England, deploying in support of the Iraq War. In 2007, Chari attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland as an Air Force Exchange Officer, and was a developmental test pilot at Eglin AFB, Florida, where he served as the project pilot for the APG-63 and APG-82 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar programs. Chari also attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and served as a CENTCOM time sensitive targeting officer. At the time of his selection as an Astronaut in June 2017, Chari was serving as the commanding officer of the 461st Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, California.[3][4]

NASA career

In June 2017, Chari was selected for NASA Astronaut Group 22, and reported for duty in August to begin two years of training as an astronaut.[5][6]

In December 2020, Chari was selected to be a part of the Artemis Team, a group of astronauts "to help pave the way for the next lunar missions including sending the first woman and next man to walk on the lunar surface in 2024."[7] The same month, he became the first astronaut from Group 22 to be selected for a space mission, which he will command, SpaceX Crew-3.[8] Chari will become the first NASA rookie to command a spaceflight since Gerald Carr, who commanded the Skylab 4 mission in 1973.

Personal life

Chari is married to Holly Schaffter Chari, also a Cedar Falls native, and the couple have three children.[5]

Awards and honors

During his Air Force career, Chari was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, and the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal. Chari is an Eagle Scout, and was a distinguished graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy and Undergraduate Pilot Training.[5][9]


Public Domain This article incorporates public domain material from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration document: Mark Garcia. "Astronaut Raja Chari". Retrieved July 6, 2021. (Official NASA biography)

  1. ^ "Sreenivas V. "Shari" Chari (1942-2010)". The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier. April 8, 2010.
  2. ^ Daniel, Vaihayasi Pande (August 16, 2017). "The next Indian astronaut". Rediff.com.
  3. ^ Timperlake, Edward; Laird, Robin (March 24, 2016). "Lieutenant Colonel Raja Chari Talks About the Way Ahead with the F-35: The Renorming of Airpower Seen from Edwards". F-35 Global News. Second Line of Defense. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  4. ^ "Outgoing 461st FLTS commander selected for astronaut training". 412th Test Wing Public Affairs. June 7, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c Garcia, Mark (February 7, 2018). "Astronaut Candidate Raja Chari". NASA. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  6. ^ Harwood, William (June 7, 2017). "NASA introduces 12 new astronauts". CBS News. CBS Broadcasting. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  7. ^ "NASA The Artemis Team". NASA. Retrieved 11 December 2020.
  8. ^ Potter, Sean (2020-12-14). "NASA, ESA Choose Astronauts for SpaceX Crew-3 Mission to Space Station". NASA. Retrieved 2020-12-14.
  9. ^ Swartz, Clay (June 9, 2017). "Meet Eagle Scout Raja Chari, one of NASA's newest astronauts". Bryan on Scouting. Scouting Magazine. Retrieved September 14, 2018.