NASA on 7 June 2017 announced names of 12 new astronauts, including an Indian-American Lt Col Raja Grinder Chari. They, the new astronauts, were chosen from a record number of over 18000 applicants.
The new candidates include six military officers, three scientists, two medical doctors, a lead engineer at SpaceX and a NASA research pilot. The seven men and five women comprise the 22nd class of American spaceflight trainees since 1959.
Indian American Lt Col., US Air Force Raja Grinder Chari (39) 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. He hails from Waterloo, Iowa who graduated from the US Air Force Academy with bachelor’s degrees aeronautics and astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.
The other 11 selected astronaut candidates include Zena Cardman, Jasmin Moghbeli, Jonny Kim, Frank Rubio, Matthew Dominick, Warren Hoburg, Robb Kulin, Kayla Barron, Bob Hines, Loral O' Hara and Jessica Watkins.
Now, these selected candidates will be trained for missions into Earth orbit and to deep space. They will be trained for two years at Johnson Space Center in Houston. The training will begin in 2012.
After completion of the training, they will be assigned to any of a variety of missions, including performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and departing for deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.
With the addition of these 12 members of the 2017 astronaut candidate class, NASA now has selected 350 astronauts since the original Mercury 7 in 1959.
NASA Astronaut Candidates
The term astronaut candidate refers to individuals who have been selected by NASA as candidates for the NASA astronaut corps and are currently undergoing a candidacy training program at the Johnson Space Center.
When: 7 June 2017