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Cedar Falls Native 'Over The Moon' With New Assignment

Raja Chari 12-11-20
NASA/Bill Ingalls
(NASA/Bill Ingalls)
Cedar Falls native Raja Chari has been selected as one the NASA astronauts who will pave the way for renewed missions to the Moon.

NASA has selected 18 astronauts from its corps to form the Artemis team and help pave the way for the next astronaut missions on and around the Moon.

Cedar Falls native Raja Chari is part of the new team. He is a graduate of Waterloo Columbus High School. He graduated from the Artemis program in January. He and his team were selected from a record-breaking pool of 18,000 applicants.

“The Artemis program will send the first woman and the next man to the lunar surface to establish a sustainable prescience there,” he said.

COVID-19 had presented both challenges and learning opportunities as the team members trained at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“What’s been good about it," said Chari, “is that it’s forced us to find creative ways to do things remotely. It’s teaching us better ways to think faster in case we have to do that from the Moon or from the lunar gateway.

“What’s been hardest is just not being able to have the people around, I miss the comradery in between meetings and between classes.”

The goal of the Artemis program is to send humans back to the moon by 2024 and possibly to Mars by 2030.