- A.C. Charania will serve as principal advisor to Administrator Bill Nelson on technology policy and programs at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA has named Indian American aerospace expert A.C. Charania as its new chief technologist. He will serve as principal advisor to Administrator Bill Nelson on technology policy and programs at the agency’s headquarters in Washington, according to a Jan. 9 NASA press release.
According to NASA, the chief technologist aligns its “agency-wide technology investments with mission needs across six mission directorates and oversees technology collaboration with other federal agencies, the private sector, and external stakeholders.”
Charania, who joined the space agency in his new role on Jan. 3, replaces another Indian American scientist Bhavya Lal, who served as acting chief technologist. Calling Charania “an experienced leader in managing large, rapidly shifting technology portfolios,” Lal said she’s “eager for him to apply his knowledge and enthusiasm at NASA.”
Charania’s new role is based in NASA’s Office of Technology, Policy and Strategy. “The rate of progress we aspire to in the 21st century depends on the selection and evolution of a portfolio of technologies into systems to carry out our missions,” Charania said in the NASA press release. “With this in mind, partnerships inside and outside of NASA offer incredible opportunities. I now look forward to the opportunity to work with the wider community to accelerate progress in space and aeronautics,” he added.
Before joining NASA, the Atlanta native served as vice president of product strategy at Reliable Robotics, “a firm that is working to bring certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation,” per his NASA profile. His previous experience also includes working at Blue Origin to mature its lunar permanence strategy, Blue Moon lunar lander program, and multiple technology initiatives with NASA.
He also worked in strategy and business development for the Virgin Galactic (now Virgin Orbit) LauncherOne small satellite launch vehicle program. He also served in multiple management and technology roles at SpaceWorks Enterprises, including helping to incubate two startups, Generation Orbit and Terminal Velocity Aerospace.
Additionally, he led the formation of the FastForward industry group focused on high-speed point-to-point transportation, was a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts fellow, and served on the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group Commercial Advisory Board. He received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s in economics from Emory University.