An Indian-American aerospace industry expert, AC Charania, has been appointed as NASA’s new chief technologist. In this role, he will serve as the principal advisor to Administrator Bill Nelson on technology policy and programs at the space agency’s headquarters.
Charania, who joined the space agency on January 3, 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. He will be working within NASA’s Office for Technology, Policy, and Strategy.
Charania replaces another Indian-American scientist, Bhavya Lal, who served as the acting chief technologist prior to his appointment. “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,” said Lal, who is currently NASA’s associate administrator for technology, policy, and strategy.
Prior to joining NASA, Charania served as the vice president of product strategy at Reliable Robotics, a firm that works to bring certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation. He has also worked in strategy and business development for the Virgin Galactic (now Virgin Orbit) LauncherOne small satellite launch vehicle program. He has 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. He is excited about the opportunity to work with the entire community to increase the rate of space and aviation progress.