Indo-American with Hyderabad roots in NASA’s lunar mission plan | Vijayawada News

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HYDERABAD: For our man with Hyderabad roots, the sky is the limit. Or, literally, the space that extends even beyond the sky.
Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari, an Indian of American descent with family ties in Hyderabad, is among 11 NASA graduates who have completed initial candidate astronaut training and have been shortlisted for a mission.
Becoming an astronaut was the childhood dream of Raja Chari, 42. As a fifth grade student in the United States, he made a poster of an astronaut for his school assignment and placed his own photo as the face in the astronaut’s helmet.
Chari’s middle-class family migrated from the remote Mahbubnagar district of Telangana to Hyderabad in the 1950s. His father, Srinivas Chari, who studied engineering at Osmania University, flew to Wisconsin. in the United States in the 1970s to continue his studies. There he met his wife Peggy Egbert, an American nurse at the University of Wisconsin. They married in 1976 and took a job at John Deere where he worked for 32 years. Chari Sr died in April 2010.
Born and raised in the United States, Raja has not forgotten his Indian roots. As a pilot in the US Air Force he flew an F 15 E to Bengaluru for an air show in 2005. During this time he traveled to Hyderabad and met his grandmother Ambuja Devi. In interviews with newspapers in the United States, he said his regular trips to Hyderabad were a kind of pilgrimage.
True to his dream of becoming an astronaut, Raja received an engineering degree from the US Air Force Academy in 1999. He went on to earn a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with d ‘ further studies at US Naval Test Pilot School and US Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
A US Air Force colonel, he was selected from among 18,000 applicants in 2017 when NASA announced its Artemis program for the training of future astronauts. The program aims to put a man and a woman on the moon by 2024. It also aims to send humans to Mars. The selected astronauts could also perform research at the International Space Station.
At a reception at the Johnson Space Station in Houston on January 10, Raja was among the shortlisted candidates to receive the “silver pin” after basic astronaut training. Those selected will receive additional training for the great mission. Raja is married to Holly Schaffter Chari with whom he has three children.
Our man could well be on and on the moon.


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