NASA Chooses New Astronauts, Indian-American Among The 12

Lt Col Raja G Chai, an American Indian is one of the 12 trainees selected by NASA American Spaceflight in its 22nd batch. They will be sent to space after two years of training.

Houston: An Indian-American was selected by NASA American spaceflight trainee. NASA selected 12 persons for its 22nd batch of American spaceflight trainees, which is termed as the largest batch in two decades. NASA received 18,300 applications after it announced open astronaut call. The twelve people were selected from among them.

The selection criterion was based on physical requirements as well as certain education and experience criteria, like having a bachelor’s degree in STEM field or accumulating up to 1,000 hours of piloting jets. All the selected candidates surpass the minimum skills NASA requires.

The twelve candidates include six military officers, three scientists, two medical doctors, a lead engineer at Space X and a NASA research pilot. Lt Col Raja ‘Grinder’ Chari, 39, belonging to Indian origin, is a commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California. He hails from Waterloo, Iowa. Chari completed his Master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT and graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School. His father is from India.

After completion of two years of training, the new candidates could be assigned to mission performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and flying on deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

U S Vice President Mike Pence was in Texas along with NASA officials to announce the new astronaut candidates or ‘ascans.’

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