NASA Selects Air Force Pilot as Astronaut Candidate

Indian American Raja Chari, a Lieutenant Colonel with the US Air Force, has been selected by space agency NASA among 12 astronaut candidates who will conduct research off the Earth for deep space missions. The group consisting of 7 men and 5 women surpassed the minimum requirements of NASA.

Cardman is one of five women and seven men who will join the existing corps of 44 NASA astronauts. The group, the largest in nearly two decades selected by NASA, will undergo a two-year training from this August.

Once their training is complete, these astronauts could be assigned to research missions on the International Space Station and flying into the space on Nasa's new Orion spacecraft or its Space Launch System rocket.

The announcement of a new class of astronauts was made on the front of numerous Texas representatives as well as Vice President Mike Pence during NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Chari's father is from India, reported PTI. Pence said he plans to chair the council, which will advise the president on space policy.

Pence also promised that the Trump administration is "firmly committed to NASA's noble mission - leading America in space".

The astronauts were selected on the basis of expertise, education, and physical tests. He also has a Master's in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT and is a certified US Naval Test Pilot. He has previous experience as an ice driller in Antarctica on the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and Taylor Glaciers and as a commercial fisherman in Chignik, Alaska. One of them is a former SpaceX engineer.

- Marine Maj. Jasmin Moghbeli of Baldwin, New York, who tests H-1 helicopters and serves as a quality assurance and avionics officer for Marine Operational Test Evaluation Squadron 1 in Yuma, Arizona. She now serves as a research engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in MA, where she designs, builds, tests and operates underwater vehicles focused on scientific research and exploration. Jessica Watkins, 28, a post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology, joins the class after serving on the science team operating the car-sized Curiosity rover which has been exploring Gale Crater on Mars since August 2012. Los Angeles native Dr. Jonny Kim has a bachelor's degree in math from the University of San Diego and a medical doctorate from Harvard University.

Kulin has worked for SpaceX in Hawthorne, Calif., since 2011.

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