Raja Chari NASA Astronaut visits Team Buckley

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Aleece Williams
  • Buckley Space Force Base Public Affairs

U.S. Air Force Col. Raja Chari, Air Force National Aeronautics Space Agency astronaut, visited Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado, Feb. 24, 2023. The visit was organized to foster relationships and inspire the upcoming generations of children. He also informed Airmen, Guardians, and community members about his unique experience as an astronaut aboard the International Space Station.

Chari served as commander of the NASA SpaceX Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station, which launched on November 10, 2021. He served on the ISS as part of Expedition 66 and 67 before returning to Earth May 6, 2022, completing the agency’s third long-duration commercial crew mission.

During the presentation, Chari discussed day-to-day operations while in space including space walks, science missions, and the importance of individual health while aboard the ISS.

“When you are aboard the ISS for so long you forget that you are in space, so I always made sure to stop by the window to get a view of Earth to remind me ‘oh yeah we’re in space and this is awesome,’” said Chari. “We are completing science experiments that are a scientist or university or some individual’s life’s work, we spend the majority of our time ensuring they are done correctly.”

Chari graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1999 and obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Astronautical Engineering. He then went on to pursue his Master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

“It was great to hear about the first-hand perspective from Col. Chari's experiences in space," said Col. Marcus Jackson, commander Buckley Space Force Base. "His presence here has elevated Team Buckley's spirit and uplifted our communities enthusiasm for prospective careers in the aerospace industry.”

In 2017 Chari was selected to attend the NASA astronaut candidate class which taught scientific and technical briefings, instruction in International Space Station systems, spacewalks, robotics, physiological training, T-38 flight training and water and wilderness survival training.

According to Chari, training before a mission can take upwards of 18 months before getting into the rocket and can be rigorous.

“A lot of our training in the Air Force and Space Force is for what we hope doesn’t happen,” said Chari. “We have to be prepared for anything.”

At the end of the presentation, Chari held a question and answer session about being an astronaut and what it takes.

“When you are in high school and you are reading biographies of other astronauts, learning how to become one, don’t do the same things I did, NASA already has one of me,” said Chari. “Do want makes you unique to become the next astronaut that is selected to represent us on the Moon and maybe even Mars one day.”