Raja Chari, 44, will be the fifth astronaut of Indian descent to go into space.
Born to an Indian father and an American mother, Mr. Chari grew up in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Mr. Chari’s father, Sreenivas, moved to the United States from the southern Indian city of Hyderabad in the 1970s to complete a master’s degree in engineering and met his wife, Peggy, through an early computer dating service.
“He was definitely a definitive force, as obviously any parent would be for their child,” Mr. Chari said of his father.
Mr. Chari earned a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A colonel in the Air Force, he commanded the 461st Flight Test Squadron and also flew combat missions in Iraq.
Last December, he was selected as a team member for NASA’s Artemis program, making him eligible for future missions to the moon. On Wednesday’s trip to the International Space Station, he will serve as the Crew-3 mission’s commander. It will also be his first journey to space.
The first Indian to travel to space was Rakesh Sharma, in 1984. Trained as a pilot in the Indian Air Force, Mr. Sharma was selected to travel to orbit for a joint Soviet-Indian spaceflight. The mission lasted eight days. He spoke on live…