President Biden Nominates Air Force Col. Raja Chari for Appointment to the Grade of Brigadier General
- The Indian American served as commander of the NASA SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the ISS, which launched on Nov. 10, 2021.
President Joe Biden has nominated Air Force Col. Raja J. Chari, who commanded the NASA SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the ISS, to the grade of brigadier general, the U.S. Department of Defense announced on Jan. 26. His nomination will have to be confirmed by the Senate which approves all senior civilian and military appointments.
The Cedar Falls, Iowa native was selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. He completed two years of training as an Astronaut Candidate. He then served as director of the Joint Test Team for the NASA Commercial Crew Program. He served as commander of the NASA SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the ISS, which launched on Nov. 10, 2021. He served as a flight engineer aboard the International Space Station for 177 days in orbit. During his time on the Space Station, he performed two spacewalks and helped in capturing and releasing three SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and two Cygnus cargo vehicles.
During their mission, Chari and three crew members contributed to hundreds of experiments and technology demonstrations, NASA said in a press release. They worked on a variety of plant growth experiments, testing new systems for growing crops and studying potentially drought-resistant cotton plants.
In addition, they tested a handheld bioprinter designed to print bandages made from skin cells directly onto a wound, and a miniature scanning electron microscope. The crew members also installed a new device to support studies on fire safety in microgravity and conducted one of the first archaeological experiments in space. Working in pairs, the astronauts also completed four spacewalks to prepare the station for upcoming solar array upgrades by assembling and installing modification kits and successfully replacing a faulty antenna on the Port-1 truss structure.
At the time of his selection in June 2017, Chari was a Colonel in the U.S. Air Force, serving as the Commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron and the Director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force. He has accumulated more than 2,500 hours of flight time in the F-35, F-15, F-16, and F-18 including F-15E combat missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployments in support of the Korean peninsula.
He graduated from Columbus High School in Waterloo, Iowa, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado. He then got a master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He then attended the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Maryland, and the US Army Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
He is married to Holly Schaffter Chari, also a Cedar Falls native, and the couple has three children.