AC Charania Is 2nd Consecutive Indian-American To Become NASA Chief Technologist

Charania succeeded Bhavya Lal, another Indian-American, to assume the coveted post at NASA.

South Asians
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AC Charania, an Indian-American, has been appointed as the new chief technologist at NASA, or National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the space agency announced on Monday, 9 January.

Charania succeeded Bhavya Lal, another Indian-American, who had held the post of acting chief technologist ahead of the former's appointment.

In a statement after his appointment, Charania said:
"The rate of advancement we seek in the 21st century is dependent upon selecting and maturing a portfolio of technologies into systems to execute our missions. With this in mind, there are incredible opportunities in partnerships within and outside of NASA. I now look forward to the opportunity to work with the entire community to increase the rate of space and aviation progress."

Charania had joined NASA in his new role on 3 January. His job will be focused on aligning its agencywide technology investments with mission needs across six mission directorates and oversee technology collaboration with other federal agencies, the private sector, and external stakeholders.

Who Is AC Charania? 

Charania received his bachelor's and a master's degree in aerospace engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a bachelor's in economics from Emory University.

After completing his education, he held several significant posts during his long and illustrious career.

  • Before joining NASA, Charania served as the vice-president of product strategy at Reliable Robotics. The firm aims to bring certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation.

  • His experience also includes stints at Blue Origin – to mature its lunar permanence strategy, Blue Moon lunar lander program, and several technology initiatives with NASA.

  • He has also worked on strategy and business development for the Virgin Galactic (now Virgin Orbit) LauncherOne small satellite launch vehicle programme. Apart from this, his work at SpaceWorks Enterprises involved bringing out the incubation of two startups – Generation Orbit and Terminal Velocity Aerospace.

  • He further led the formation of the FastForward industry group, which was focused on high-speed point-to-point transportation, and served on the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group Commercial Advisory Board.

In his current role, Charania will lead technology innovation and serve as the principal advisor to Administrator Bill Nelson on technology policy and programmes at the agency's headquarters in Washington DC.

'Charania An Experienced Leader'

Charania's predecessor, Bhavya Lal, called him an "experienced leader" and said that he would be instrumental in pushing forth diverse technological portfolios at the space agency.

"Technology plays a vital role in every NASA mission. Making sure that we're pursuing the best policy objectives allows this agency to continue to serve as a global leader in innovation," Lal, who is the associate administrator for technology, policy, and strategy at NASA, said.

"Charania is an experienced leader in managing large, rapidly shifting technology portfolios. I am eager for him to apply his knowledge and enthusiasm at NASA," she added.

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Topics:  NASA   Indian Diaspora 

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