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Indian-American, Raja Chari, one of 12 astronauts chosen by Nasa – Photos

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HOUSTON: World’s top space agency NASA has chosen 12 people who will be trained as astronauts and will be sent on different missions in space over in the coming years. There were 18,000 applicants for the 12 slots that the American space agency had advertised. It is needless to say that the selected dozen are already over the moon.

The 12 lucky people who have been selected by NASA to be trained as astronauts include seven men and five women and are the 22nd class of American spaceflight trainees since 1959.

The basic criteria to apply for the enticing job was very tough. the candidates were required to be extremely fit physically, must have a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field and at least 1,000 hours of piloting jets.

Picture courtesy: NASA

It is said that the people selected out of more than 18,000 candidates possess skills much more than NASA required. After completing two years of training, the new astronaut candidates could be assigned to missions performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and flying on deep space missions on Nasa’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.




The good news for the Indians around the world and more particularly for the Indian American community is the fact that out of the lucky 12, there is one candidate who is an Indian American. Lt Col Raja “Grinder” Chari, is said to be of Indian American origin.

As far as the twelve future astronauts are concerned, they include six military officers, three scientists, two medical doctors, a lead engineer at SpaceX and a Nasa research pilot.

As far as Lt Col Raja “Grinder” Chari, 39, is concerned, he 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. Hailing from Waterloo, Iowa, Chari earned a Master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT and graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School. His father is from India.

The others who have been selected are well-suited for the job. Lt Kayla “Sax” Barron, 29, is a US Navy submarine officer from Richland, Washington. A member of the US Navy’s first class of women commissioned into the submarine community, Barron comes to Nasa from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, where she has been serving as the Flag Aide to the Superintendent. Zena Cardman, a 29-year-old is a geobiologist who had done research at Penn State University in Pennsylvania. Her research was focused on microorganisms in subsurface environments, ranging from caves to deep sea sediments.

Lt Commander Matthew Dominick, 35-year-old Dominick is the head for the US Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron 115. Born and raised in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, Dominick was at sea on the USS Ronald Reagan when he got the call on May 25 saying he had been selected as an astronaut candidate. Bob Hines, a 42-year-old Nasa research pilot is based at Johnson Space Center since 2012. Hines hails from Harrisburg in Pennsylvania. He attended the Air Force Test Pilot School for his Master’s degree in flight test engineering. He has served in the US Air Force and Air Force Reserves for 18 years.

One of the most qualified among the lot is Warren “Woody” Hoburg, a 31-year-old assistant professor of aeronautics and astronautics at MIT from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He has earned a doctorate in electrical engineering and computer science from the University of California, Berkley. Jonny Kim, a 33-year-old Navy lieutenant and SEAL, who has has been on active duty reserve while completing his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital. Robb Kulin, the 33-year-old lead of the Launch Chief Engineering group at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California. 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. Major Jasmin Moghbeli, 33, is a quality assurance and avionics officer for the Marine Corps’ Operational Test and Evaluation Squadron 1 in Yuma, Arizona.

Others in the group include, Loral O’Hara, a 34-year-old research engineer at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, who calls Sugar Land, Texas, home. Francisco Rubio, is a 41-year-old major, serving as a surgeon for the 3rd Battalion of the Army’s 10th Special Forces Group. He earned a Doctorate of Medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. Jessica Watkins, a 28-year-old postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where she collaborates on Nasa’s Mars Science Laboratory for the Curiosity rover. She has worked at Nasa’s Ames Research Center in northern California.

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