An Indian American with extensive experience in the aerospace sector has been named NASA’s new Chief technologist. He will be Administrator Bill Nelson’s primary advisor on technology policy and initiatives at the space agency’s headquarters.
According to a statement released by NASA on Monday, AC Charania will oversee technology engagement with other government agencies, the private sector, and external stakeholders while also coordinating NASA’s agency-wide technology investments with mission priorities across six mission directorates. Within NASA’s Office for Technology, Policy, and Strategy, the post is located.
Bhavya Lal, NASA associate administrator for technology, policy, and strategy said, “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.”
Before Charania was appointed, Lal held the position of acting chief technologist. Charania started working at NASA Headquarters on January 3. 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.”
He was vice president of product strategy at Reliable Robotics, a company that strives to introduce approved autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation before he joined NASA. In the past, he has also contributed to the development of Blue Origin’s plan for lunar permanence, the Blue Moon lunar lander programme, and numerous technical efforts with NASA.
For the LauncherOne small satellite launch vehicle programme at Virgin Galactic (now Virgin Orbit), Charania has also worked in strategy and commercial development.
He holds degrees in aerospace engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University as well as a bachelor’s in economics.