Indian-American astronaut Raja Chari is in the thick of training for a mission to space launching at the end of October. Chari, for whom it will be the first space flight, will be the Commander of the SpaceX Crew 3 flight which is scheduled to take off for the International Space Station for a long stay in space, NASA announced in a press release Sept. 14, 2021. The crew will complete a six-month science mission aboard the microgravity laboratory in low-Earth orbit.
The Crew-3 mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. This will be the third time that SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket will carry astronauts to the International Space Station for a long duration mission.
The Crew-3 mission will launch NASA astronauts Raja Chari, mission commander, Tom Marshburn, pilot, and Kayla Barron, mission specialist, along with European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer, also a mission specialist in microgravity.
The four astronauts will hitch a ride on SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket strapped into the Dragon capsule from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The four-member crew will be on a long-duration mission in space.
Nasa said that the Crew-3 astronauts plan to arrive at the station to overlap with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who flew to the station as part of the agency’s Crew-2 mission in April 2021. The earliest targeted launch date is Sunday, Oct. 31, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA said.
Chari was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class and reported for duty in August 2017. An Iowa native, Chari graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1999 with bachelor’s degrees in astronautically engineering and engineering science.
He earned a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. He also logged more than 2,500 hours of flight time in the F-35, F-15, F-16, and F-18, according to the profile provided by NASA.