SpaceX Crew-3 mission; Indian-American astronaut all set to command his first spaceflight

Indian-American astronaut, Raja Chari will be part of NASA-SpaceX’s third mission to the International Space Station and the 4-member Crew-3 mission scheduled to launch on October 30.

Raja Chari is all set for his first spaceflight, along with his fellow crew members Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron as well as ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer. 

The US space agency said in a statement, “NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission will carry 4 astronauts aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket to the space station.” Chari will be the commander of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the Crew-3 mission, “responsible for all phases of flight, from launch to re-entry”, NASA said. 

The four astronauts will lift off to space from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the statement added. The Crew-3 mission follows the Inspiration 4, a civilian mission that flew for an orbit aboard the Space X Crew Dragon spacecraft on September 15.

“The astronauts of crew-3 mission continuing to test our exploration risks and pushing the bounds of technology and continuing to establish our key international partner relationships,” said Leuders, associate administrator for the Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA.

About the Indian-American Astronaut – Raja Chari

Chari will be the commander of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the Crew-3 mission. He will also serve as an Expedition 66 flight engineer aboard the station.  He is currently a Colonel in the US Air Force.

Chari was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Following completion of his graduate studies, Chari attended Undergraduate pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma. At the time of his selection as an Astronaut in June 2017, Chari was serving as the commanding officer of the 461st Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, California.

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In 2020, Chari was selected for NASA’s initial 18-member team of astronauts as part of the Artemis Lunar Exploration Programme that aims to help pave the way for the next lunar missions. Chari has more than 2,000 hours of flight time in F-35s, F-15s, F-16s, and F-18s, including F-15E combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployments in support of the Korean peninsula.