Meet Raja Chari, Nasa chose for space mission

Raja "Grinder" Chari is a commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The US Vice-President Mike Pence visited the Johnson Space Centre in Houston to announce and congratulate the new batch. Chari has over 2,000 hours of flight time and has flown in combat missions in Iraq as well as in the Korean peninsula.

Lieutenant Colonel Raja Chari, a 1999 graduate of the US Air Force Academy, holds a Bachelor's degrees in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science. This also makes him the only Indian American in the class of 12 astronaut candidates. He earned Master's degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

When he completes the two-year course, Chari will have to serve on the ground before getting his first flight assignment.

As CBS reported, the new class includes a physician, a surgeon, two geologists, an oceanography engineer, an electrical engineering professor, a SpaceX senior manager, four veteran test pilots and a nuclear engineer. "Between expanding the crew on board the space station to conduct more research than ever before and making preparations to send humans farther into space than we've ever been, we are going to keep them busy".

The 12 selected June 7 will join 44 astronauts already in the NASA corps.

The class is NASA's 22nd and the largest in agency history, according to a news release. Jasmin Moghbeli, Loral O'Hara, Dr. Francisco "Frank" Rubio and Jessica Watkins.

Once trained they could be assigned a variety of missions, including: deep space missions, researching at the International Space Station and launching into space on spacecrafts built by commercial companies.

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