Astro Raja to lead mission to Space Station before heading to Moon

Astro Raja to lead mission to Space Station before heading to Moon

NEW DELHI [Maha Media]: Days after announcing his name for the ambitious Artemis missions to the Moon, NASA on Tuesday selected Indian-American astronaut Raja Chari to lead the next SpaceX Crew Mission to the International Space Station. Chari, who will be the commander of the mission will be joined by Tom Marshburn as pilot and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer as the mission specialist.

The SpaceX Crew-3 mission will be launched to the ISS likely in September 2021 for a six-month stay in outer space. Nasa in a statement said that a fourth crew member will be added at a later date. "Excited and honored to be training with Matthias Maurer and Tom Marshburn in prep for a trip to the Space Station," Chari tweeted following the announcement.

"This will be the third crew rotation mission of SpaceX’s human space transportation system and its fourth flight with astronauts, including the Demo-2 test flight, to the space station through NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The goal of the program is to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective crew access to the space station and low-Earth orbit," Nasa added.

Nasa has a six-mission contract with SpaceX, which is prepping for missions to Mars in near future with the recent test of the Starship launch.

From combat flying in Iraq to launching in Space: Meet Astronaut Raja Chari

Raja Chari, who is part of the bold Artemis missions, which is likely to firmly place the US back on the Moon, will be on his maiden space flight before the Moon missions begin. An Indian-American, Chari is a US Air Force Colonel and test pilot who has logged over 2,000 hours of flying. He became a Nasa astronaut in 2017.

The Iowa native graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science before heading to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics. He is also a graduate of the US Naval Test Pilot School.

Chari was leading the 461st Flight Test Squadron and was the Director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force when he was approached by Nasa. A combat fighter pilot, he has flown the F-35, F-15, F-16, and F-18 aircraft including F-15E combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployments in support of the Korean peninsula. A decorated Air Force officer, he 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.

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