Eastern Iowa native Raja Chari picked for NASA’s Artemis team

Published: Dec. 10, 2020 at 12:46 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Cedar Falls native Raja Chari was selected to be part of a team of 18 astronauts, along with a coalition of international partners that will return to the moon.

It’s part of NASA’s Artemis program that will pave the way for astronaut missions on and around the moon.

Vice President Mike Pence introduced the members of the Artemis Team Wednesday night at the Kennedy Space Center.

Their mission will have NASA sending the first woman to the moon in 2024.

Chari joined the astronaut corps in 2017.

After 2024, at least one member of the Artemis team will return about once per year.

The mission will gather information about the potential to live on other worlds.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst also thanked Chari for his service, helping America stay a leader in space.

“Raja, Iowa is so proud of you,” Ernst said. “I’m proud of you. Thank you for your continued commitment to our country and our exploration of space.”

The engine that will be used in the Artemis mission was built by Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin.

The BE-7 Engine can reach 10,000 pounds force.

The engine is part of the Artemis program’s Lunar Lander.

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