President Joe Biden has proposed Indian-American astronaut Raja J. Chari for appointment to the rank of Air Force brigadier general. According to the U.S. Defence Department, the nomination was made public on Thursday and must be approved by the Senate, which does so for all high-level civilian and military appointments.
At the Johnson Space Center in Texas for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Air Force Colonel Chari, 45, is currently the Crew-3 commander and an astronaut. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland, with a master’s in aeronautics, and he also holds a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mr. Chari has more than 2,500 hours of flight time under his belt, making him an experienced test pilot. At Edwards Air Force Base in California, he has held the positions of director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force and commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron.
The nomination is a remarkable accomplishment for Mr. Chari, who was motivated to pursue an aeronautical career by his father Srinivas Chari. Srinivas Chari, who was born in Hyderabad and moved to the United States at an early age to pursue an engineering degree, eventually had a prosperous career at John Deere in Waterloo.
Mr. Chari was chosen by NASA and the European Space Agency to lead the SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2020. He will make his first trip to space on this mission, which demonstrates his knowledge of and commitment to the aeronautics industry.
Mr. Chari will have the title of Brigadier General, a one-star General Officer rank in the US Air Force if he is confirmed by the Senate. This position sits between a colonel and a major general. Mr. Chari’s appointment will be a momentous moment for the Indian-American community as it is a highly regarded and wanted post.