Raja Chari

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Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari
Raja Chari portrait.jpg
Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari

(1977-06-24) June 24, 1977 (age 41)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.
Alma materUnited States Air Force Academy (B.S.)
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.S.)
Space career
NASA Astronaut
Current occupation
Fighter pilot
RankColonel, USAF
SelectionNASA Group 22

Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari (born June 24, 1977; Col, USAF) is an American test pilot and NASA astronaut candidate of the class of 2017. He is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, MIT, and U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, and has over 2,000 flying hours.

Early life and education[edit]

Chari was born on June 24, 1977 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Peggy Chari. He was raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa and attended Columbus High School. In 1999, he graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science, with a minor in Mathematics. He received a fellowship at Charles Stark Draper Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studied automated orbital rendezvous and earned a Masters degree in Astronautics and Aeronautics.[1][2]

Air Force career[edit]

After completing his Masters degree, Chari attended Undergraduate Pilot Training at Vance AFB. He attended F-15E Strike Eagle training at Seymour Johnson AFB, and was subsequently stationed at Elmendorf AFB and RAF Lakenheath, and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Chari attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, and was a test pilot at Eglin AFB. He served as the project pilot for the F-15C Eagle APG-68v3 and F-15E Strike Eagle APG-82 programs for incorporating Active Electronically Scanned Array radars. Chari attended the U .S. Army Command and General Staff College, and served as a CENTCOM time sensitive targeting officer. Chari's last assignment prior to his selection was commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron.[2][3]

NASA career[edit]

In June 2017, Chari was selected for NASA Astronaut Group 22, and reported for duty in August to begin two years of training as an astronaut.[1][4]

Personal life[edit]

Chari and his wife Holly have three children.[1]

Awards and honors[edit]

During his Air Force career, Chari was awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, the Iraq Campaign Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal, and the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal. Chari is an Eagle Scout, and was a distinguished graduate from the U.S. Air Force Academy and Undergraduate Pilot Training.[1][5]


 This article incorporates public domain material from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration document "Astronaut Candidate Raja Chari" by Mark Garcia (Official NASA biography). Retrieved on September 20, 2018.

  1. ^ a b c d Garcia, Mark (February 7, 2018). "Astronaut Candidate Raja Chari". NASA. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  2. ^ a b Timperlake, Edward; Laird, Robin (March 24, 2016). "Lt. Col. Raja Chari Talks About the Way Ahead with the F-35: The Renorming of Airpower Seen from Edwards". F-35 Global News. Second Line of Defense. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  3. ^ "Outgoing 461st FLTS commander selected for astronaut training". 412th Test Wing Public Affairs. June 7, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2018.
  4. ^ Harwood, William (June 7, 2017). "NASA introduces 12 new astronauts". CBS News. CBS Broadcasting. Retrieved 8 June 2017.
  5. ^ Swartz, Clay (June 9, 2017). "Meet Eagle Scout Raja Chari, one of NASA's newest astronauts". Bryan on Scouting. Scouting Magazine. Retrieved September 14, 2018.