NASA has selected 12 new astronauts including an Indian-American, Lt Col Raja “Grinder” Chari, 39, commander of the 461st Flight Test Squadron as well as the director of the F-35 Integrated Test Force at Edwards Air Force Base in California.
Importantly, this is the largest group of astronauts NASA has selected in almost two decades. The 12 candidates selected from around from 18000 applications, include six military officers, three scientists, two medical doctors, a lead engineer at SpaceX and a NASA research pilot. In total, NASA has selected seven men and five women who will comprise the 22nd class of American spaceflight trainees since 1959.
To get selected as astronauts, the candidates must meet some physical requirements as well as certain education and experience criteria. They should hold a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field or have up to 1,000 hours of experience in piloting jets. After the completion of two years of training, the selected astronauts will be assigned various roles like performing research on the International Space Station (ISS) and flying on deep space missions. Lt Col Raja Grinder Chari has obtained his Master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT and has graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School.