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Here is Another Proud Moment For India! NASA Selects An Indian-American Among 18,353 Seekers

About 36% of the scientists in NASA are Indians, according to a report released in 2008. It is, indeed, a matter of pride. A recent piece of news has brought more cheers to India. US space agency National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has selected 12 astronauts who will be trained for missions to orbit earth and outer space. One of them, Raja Chari, is an Indian. NASA vice-president Mike Pence revealed this at function organised at Johnson Space Center in Houston on June 8, 2017.About 18,353 people had applied for the selection as the Astronaut Candidate but only 12 people made to the final list. According to certain estimates, the selection process was 100 times more difficult than getting admission in Harvard University. Read on to know more about Raja Chari.

Group photo of selected candidates

The 12-member team comprises seven men and five women. This is the largest group NASA has selected in last two decades. The list is as follows. - Kayla Barron, 29- Zena Cardman, 29- Raja Chari, 39- Matthew Dominick, 35- Bob Hines, 42- Warren “Woody” Hoburg, 31- Dr Jonny Kim, 33- Robb Kulin, 33- Dr Francisco “Frank” Rubio, 41- Jessica Watkins, 29The 12 new candidates include six military officers, three scientists, two medical doctors, a lead engineer at SpaceX and a NASA research pilot.


Raja Chari was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa, US. He is married to Holly Schaffter and has three children. His father is from India. 


"Chari has graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1999 with Bachelor’s degrees in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. He continued to earn a Master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School," a statement issued from NASA revealed.


At the time of selection, Chari was a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Air Force having experience of over 2,000 hours of flight time. He is the commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.


Chari will be under training for two years as an Astronaut Candidate from August 2017. After completing the training, Chari will work in the technical field at the Astronaut Office at NASA.

Kalpana Chawla. 

It is not for the first time than an Indian-American astronaut has been selected by NASA for space mission. Kalpana Chawla started working for NASA in 1988. She was part of the seven-member crew, which went into space. All the crew members died in 2003 while entering the earth's atmosphere. She was a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. 

Sunita Williams 

Sunita Williams began her NASA career as an Astronaut Candidate with training at the Johnson Space Center in August 1998. She has been the part of many NASA missions like Spacewalk, First marathon in space, Expeditions 14 and 15, STS-116.