Indian-American US Air Force colonel Raja Chari is among 18 astronauts who have been selected by NASA for its manned mission to the Moon and beyond. Half of the selected astronauts are women.
The modern lunar exploration programme will land the first woman and next man on the Moon in 2024 and aims to establish a sustainable human lunar presence by the end of the decade, media reports quoted the American space agency.
The 18 astronauts will train for NASA’s Artemis moon-landing programme.
Chari, 43 is a graduate of the US Air Force Academy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and US Naval Test Pilot School.
He is the only Indian-American on the list. He was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class.
“My fellow Americans, I give you the heroes of the future who will carry us back to the Moon and beyond: the Artemis Generation,” Vice President Mike Pence said at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida on Wednesday.
“It really is amazing to think that the next man and the first woman on the Moon are among the names that we just read… We started today reflecting on a great hero of the past. The Artemis Generation are the heroes of American space exploration in the future,” Pence said after he introduced the members of the Artemis Team during the eighth National Space Council meeting.
The NASA mission of which Raja Chari is part of
Most of the astronauts in the group are in their 30s or 40s. The oldest is 55, the youngest 32. The selected astronauts will help NASA prepare for the coming Artemis missions.
“There is so much exciting work ahead of us as we return to the moon, and it will take the entire astronaut corps to make that happen,” Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester said.
The other members on the list include Christina Koch and Jessica Meir — the two astronauts who performed the world’s first all-female spacewalk last year.
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