The next NASA crew rotation flight of a US commercial spacecraft carrying astronauts to the International Space Station will launch on October 30, led by Indian American astronaut Raja Chari.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission will carry astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket to the space station. According to a NASA press release, the mission is scheduled to launch from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Chari had been selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class and reported for duty in August 2017. The Iowa native graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1999 with bachelor’s degrees in astronautical engineering and engineering science. He earned a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School. He also logged more than 2,500 hours of flight time in the F-35, F-15, F-16, and F-18.
In December 2020, NASA had named the 18 astronauts who will train for its Artemis moon-landing programme. Among these, Raja Chari, 43, was the only Indian-American on the list.
The Crew-3 mission is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. It is the third time that a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket will carry astronauts to the International Space Station for a long-duration mission.
This is the first spaceflight for Chari, Barron, and Maurer. It is the third for Marshburn. The crew will complete a six-month science mission aboard the microgravity laboratory in low-Earth orbit.