NASA has named Indian-American aerospace industry expert A.C. Charania as its new chief technologist to serve as principal advisor on technology policy and programs at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.
In his role, Charania will align NASA’s agency wide technology investments with mission needs across six mission directorates and oversee technology collaboration with other federal agencies, the private sector, and external stakeholders.
The role is housed within NASA’s Office for Technology, Policy, and Strategy.
“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,” Charania said in a NASA press statement.
“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 added.
Charania will serve as principal advisor to Administrator Bill Nelson.Prior to joining NASA, he served as vice president of product strategy at Reliable Robotics, a firm that works to bring certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation.
His previous experience also includes working at Blue Origin to mature its lunar permanence strategy, Blue Moon lunar lander program, and multiple technology initiatives with NASA.
“A.C. is an experienced leader in managing large, rapidly shifting technology portfolios. I am eager for him to apply his knowledge and enthusiasm at NASA,” Bhavya Lal, NASA associate administrator for technology, policy, and strategy, said in a press statement.
Lal served as acting chief technologist prior to the appointment of Charania, whose first day working at NASA Headquarters was January 3.
Charania has also worked in strategy and business development for the Virgin Galactic (now Virgin Orbit) LauncherOne small satellite launch vehicle program.
He also served in multiple management and technology roles at SpaceWorks Enterprises, including helping to incubate two startups, Generation Orbit and Terminal Velocity Aerospace.
Charania led the formation of the FastForward industry group focused on high-speed point-to-point transportation, was a NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts fellow, and served on the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group Commercial Advisory Board, according to the agency release.
He received a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology, and a bachelor’s in economics from Emory University.