President Biden nominates Indian-American Astronaut to Brigadier General

Astronaut Raja Chari. Photo: Twitter @Astro_Raja

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III recently announced that President Biden had nominated Air Force Col. Raja J. Chari, an Indian-American, for appointment to the grade of brigadier general.

Chari, an Iowa native, is currently serving as the Crew-3 commander and astronaut at National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Johnson Space Center in Texas. Secretary Austin made the announcement Jan. 26, 2023.

This would be the first Indian-American to reach this high level in the U.S. defense forces. Chari’s nomination has to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

The Indian-American astronaut was selected by NASA in 2017 to join the Astronaut Candidate Class.  He graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1999 with a bachelor’s degrees in Astronautical Engineering and Engineering Science.

He earned a master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School.

Chari served as commander of the NASA SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station, which launched on November 10, 2021.  He served on the International Space Station as part of Expedition 66 and 67 before returning to Earth May 6, 2022, completing the agency’s third long-duration commercial crew mission.  The international crew of four spent 177 days in orbit.

At the time of his selection in June 2017, Chari was a Colonel select in the U.S. Air Force, serving as the Commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the Director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force.  He has accumulated more than 2,500 hours of flight time in the F-35, F-15, F-16, and F-18 including F-15E combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployments in support of the Korean peninsula.

Chari’s many awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Aerial Achievement Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, the Air Force Achievement Medal, an Iraq Campaign Medal, a Korean Defense Service Medal and the Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal.

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Chari was raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa.  He is married to Holly Schaffter Chari, also a Cedar Falls native, and the couple has three children.



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