Raja Chari to lead SpaceX mission to ISS

Updated December 15, 2020

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Washington, Dec 15 (IANS) NASA and European Space Agency (ESA) have selected three astronauts, including Indian-American Raja Chari, to serve as crew members for SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station (ISS), which is expected to launch in the autumn of 2021.

Raja Chari will serve as commander while NASA's Tom Marshburn will be pilot and ESA's Matthias Maurer will serve as a mission specialist, NASA said on Monday.

A fourth crew member will be added at a later date, following a review by NASA and its international partners.

This will be the first spaceflight for Raja Chari, who became a NASA astronaut in 2017.

He is a colonel in the US Air Force and joins the mission with extensive experience as a test pilot. He has accumulated more than 2,500 hours of flight time in his career.

Chari was among the 18 astronauts selected last week to form the Artemis Team and help pave the way for the next lunar missions, including sending the first woman and next man to walk on the lunar surface in 2024.

His father Sreenivas V. Chari immigrated from Hyderabad.

Marshburn is a Statesville, North Carolina, native who became an astronaut in 2004.

Prior to serving in the astronaut corps, the medical doctor served as flight surgeon at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston and later became medical operations lead for the International Space Station.

The Crew-3 mission will be his third visit to the space station and his second long-duration mission.

Marshburn previously served as a crew member of STS-127 in 2009 and Expedition 34/35, which concluded in 2013.

Maurer comes from Sankt Wendel, in the German state of Saarland.

Like Chari, Maurer will be making his first trip to space with the Crew-3 mission.

When Chari, Marshburn, and Maurer arrive at the orbiting laboratory, they will become expedition crew members for the duration of their six-month stay.

This will be the third crew rotation mission of SpaceX's human space transportation system and its fourth flight with astronauts, including the Demo-2 test flight, to the space station through NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

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