Indian-American US Air Force fighter pilot Raja Chari is all set to be the commander of SpaceX's Crew-3 mission, scheduled for liftoff on October 31. Born and brought up in America's Milwaukee, Wisconsin to Sreenivas V Chari and Peggy Egbert, the 44-year-old will be setting off on his debut space flight as its commander in the very shot itself. Raja completed his master's in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and also holds a degree from the US Naval Test Pilot school.
During a virtual media interaction on October 27, Chari had stated that the Crew-3 mission among other things will help test technologies at the space station for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) mission to the moon called 'Artemis'.
SpaceX And NASA
This will mark SpaceX's fourth launch of NASA astronauts and overall its fifth passenger flight so far. NASA turned to Boeing and SpaceX to transport their crew to and from the space station, after the retirement of the shuttle fleet in 2011. Until SpaceX took over the job in 2020, US astronauts hitched rides on Russian rockets as well.
Meanwhile, Boeing is yet to launch anyone so far. A repeat test flight of its Starliner capsule, without any crew members, is off until 2022 due to valve-related troubles.
Other than Commander Raja Chari, there will be three other astronauts joining him in the Crew-3 Mission. Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and Matthias Maurer from the European Space Agency.
Once he takes the flight on SpaceX's Falcon rocket, German astronaut Matthias Maurer will be the 600th individual in space, as per NASA's official statistics. Earlier this week, Maurer has stated at a news conference that he had offered the designation to crewmate Barron, who will be the 601st person in space.