An Indian American on Moon by 2024? Raja Chari may do it
First Published Dec 11, 2020, 9:42 AM IST
Indian American Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari has been named by US space agency NASA as one of the 18 astronauts who will be train for its Artemis moon-landing programme.
Raja Chari joined NASA's astronaut training programme in 2017. At the time of his selection, he was a Colonel select in the US Air Force, serving as the Commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force.
Raja Chari has accumulated more than 2,000 hours of flight time in the F-35, F-15, F-16, and F-18 including F-15E combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployments in support of the Korean peninsula.
Raja Chari is set to become the third Indian-American in space after NASA astronaut Sunita Williams (1998) and Kalpana Chawla, who died in 2003 in the space shuttle Columbia disaster.
What is the Artemis program?
The Artemis program will see NASA send the first woman and next man on the Moon by 2024.
According to NASA, it is using innovative technologies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before.
NASA says that its deep space transportation systems are in the final stages of testing before integration.
The Artemis I and Artemis II flight tests will validate rocket and spacecraft performance and set America on a course to once again return astronauts to the Moon.
The NASA mission statement says that the agency will work with commercial partners to build landers and conduct risk-reducing tests in the lead-up to the landings on the Artemis III mission and beyond.
"We will collaborate with our commercial and international partners and establish sustainable exploration by the end of the decade. Then, we will use what we learn on and around the Moon to take the next giant leap -- sending astronauts to Mars," it says.
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