NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) have selected three astronauts, including Indian-American Raja Chari, to serve as crew members for SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station (ISS), which is expected to launch in the autumn of 2021.
An Indian-American US Air Force colonel, Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari is now among the 18 astronauts who have been designated by NASA for its manned mission to the Moon. Raja Chari will serve as commander while NASA's Tom Marshburn will be pilot and ESA's Matthias Maurer will serve as a mission specialist, NASA said on Monday.
A fourth crew member will be added at a later date, following a review by NASA and its international partners. This will be the first spaceflight for Raja Chari, who became a NASA astronaut in 2017.
He is a colonel in the US Air Force and joins the mission with extensive experience as a test pilot. He has accumulated more than 2,500 hours of flight time in his career.
Chari was among the 18 astronauts selected last week to form the Artemis Team and help pave the way for the next lunar missions, including sending the first woman and next man to walk on the lunar surface in 2024. His father Sreenivas V Chari immigrated from Hyderabad.
This will be the third crew rotation mission of SpaceX's human space transportation system and its fourth flight with astronauts, including the Demo-2 test flight, to the space station through NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
(With inputs from IANS)