Hyderabad: Four years from now, an American Indian with family roots in the Mahbubnagar district of Telangana could well be walking on the moon.
The United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) has announced the name of Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari in the 18-member ‘Artemis’ team selected for the ambitious lunar exploration program. Chari would be the third Indian-American in space after Kalpana Chawla in 1997 and Sunita Williams in 2006. He was one of those chosen from 18,000 applicants in 2017 when the POT announced the Artemis program.
“Meet Raja Chari, an early member of NASA’s Artemis team who will help pave the way for upcoming human missions on and around the moon,” said Nasa Aeronautics in an announcement about Raja Chari on Twitter.
Chari’s father, Srinivas Chari, a native of Mahbubnagar, immigrated to the United States after completing his education at Osmania University in Hyderabad.
While pursuing higher education in the United States in the 1950s, he married Peggy Egbert. The fact that Srinivas Chari made his own dreams of pursuing higher education in the United States come true and working a job he liked for 32 years seemed to have influenced Raja Chari to dream big. Srinivas passed away in 2010. “During my childhood, my focus was on education. That you really needed to get it right to be successful, ”Chari, who was born in 1977 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, told a news agency. Chari and his wife Holly have three children.
Chari, who has 2,000 flight hours with the US Air Force, is excited to have been selected to be a part of the mission. “Proud to be a small part of the great team that works to get humans to the moon to stay,” the 43-year-old astronaut tweeted. Under the Artemis program, NASA will put the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024.
Speaking about her life and journey to become an astronaut, Chari said, “This is not really a dream. This is really happening. If I ask my mom, she definitely has memories of me as a kid talking about being an astronaut. I always knew that I wanted to do something related to aviation. I have been lucky to have the support of my family ”.
In a video shared by Nasa Aeronautics, he said: “But at the same time, I think I also started to tell myself that it was not really possible because it was something that they would be disappointed in.”
A colonel in the US Air Force, he joined the astronaut corps in 2017. He received a bachelor’s degree in astronautical engineering and a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics. A graduate of the US Naval Test Pilot School, he worked on the F-15E upgrades and then the F-35 development program before joining the NASA program. He was one of 11 new NASA graduates who successfully completed their basic astronaut training of more than two years in January 2020.
Chari received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal, an the Korean Defense Service and the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, among others.
US Vice President Mike Pence announced the names of the 18 members selected for the Artemis program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday.
“I give to the heroes who will take us to the moon and beyond: the Artemis Generation,” Pence said, as he announced the names.