Here’s Raja Chari, Indian-origin NASA pilot nominated for Brigadier General of US Air Force

The US Air Force may soon get an Indian-origin person as Brigadier General after US President Joe Biden nominated NASA astronaut Raja J Chari for the prestigious post. In order for Chary to assume a senior-level position in the US Air Force, the nomination needs to be approved by the upper chamber of the US Congress – the Senate.

The Democrats, the party to which US President Joe Biden belongs, hold a majority in the Senate, although a narrow one. Raja Chari was nominated on Thursday. Any appointment to senior positions in civilian as well as military institutions in the US has to be approved by the Senate, according to a Defense Department. The rank of Brigadier General is below Major General but above Colonel.

Raja Chari is currently an astronaut and commander of Crew 3 at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Johnson Space Center in Texas.

Chari’s team is preparing for an American mission aimed at returning to the moon.

A seasoned test pilot, Chari has over 2,000 hours of flying experience. His experience includes flying the F-15E on combat missions during Operation Iraqi Freedom. They have also been deployed in support of South Korea.

His educational background includes a master’s degree in aeronautics from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a successful graduation from the Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland, US.

Chary previously served as commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

Chari was also selected by NASA and the European Space Agency as the commander of the Elon Musk-owned SpaceX Crew 3 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). This happened recently in 2020.

He is inspired by his father – Srinivasa Chari. Chari Sr. moved to the US at an early age to pursue an engineering degree from Hyderabad. While pursuing his dreams of higher education and a successful career, he met his wife and spent the rest of his life at John Deere in Waterloo.