Raja Chari, commander of the SpaceX Crew-3 Dragon capsule, arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) in November 2021 and is currently on a six-month science mission to demonstrate new technology for NASA’s future Moon and Mars missions, including NASA’s Artemis program’s lunar missions.
Chari and his fellow NASA astronaut Kayla Barron had prepared for the spacewalk for more than a week. The two astronauts started their spacewalk at 8:12 a.m. EDT on Tuesday and completed it in 6 hours and 54 minutes to install a solar array on the ISS.
The arrays will ultimately augment six of the station’s eight power channels, raising total available power from 160 kilowatts to up to 215 kilowatts.
The 44-year-old astronaut holds a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT and is a graduate of the US Naval Test Pilot School, which has a long history of supplying astronauts with a pipeline.
When he was chosen to be an astronaut in 2017, he was a colonel in the US Air Force with over 2,500 hours of flight service.
Chari was born in Milwaukee and was raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa. His father, Sreenivas V Chari, came to the United States from Hyderabad to pursue an engineering degree.