412th Test Wing Public Affairs / June 07, 2017
Lt. Col. Raja Chari has been selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class.
Chari relinquished command of the 461st Flight Test Squadron at Edwards Air Force Base, California, June 9, where he oversaw developmental testing of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter for the past few year. Simultaneously, he served as director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force.
Chari will leave Edwards with a selection for promotion to colonel. He has flown more than 2,000 hours in the F-36 Lightning II, the F-15 Strike Eagle, the F-16 Fighting Falcon the F-18 Hornet, including F-15E combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployments in support of the Korean peninsula.
The Iowa native graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s in astronautical engineering and engineering science. He continued to earn a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated from the Naval Test Pilot School.
Chari is one of 12 new astronauts introduced June 7 who will train for missions in Earth’s orbit and deep space.
The seven men and five women comprise the 22nd class of American spaceflight trainees since 1959. According to a NASA news release, the group is the largest NASA has selected in almost two decades.
The 12 candidates include six military officers, two medical doctors, a lead engineer at SpaceX and a NASA research pilot.
Chari is scheduled for report for duty in August to begn two years of training. Upon completion, he will be assigned technical duties in NASA’s Astronaut Office while he awaits a flight assignment, according to NASA.