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SMC Presents a View From Space

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By Lookout Staff

May 16, 2023 -- For nearly half a year, Raja Chari saw 16 sunrises and sunsets a day. On June 1, the NASA astronaut will share his experiences during a Distinguished Scientist Lecture at Santa Monica College (SMC).

The free presentation "To the Moon and Beyond on the Artemis Odyssey" will be held online as a live virtual event at 11:15 a.m. on Thursday, June 1.

Raja Chari
Raja Chari (Courtesy SMC)

Chari -- who was raised in Iowa and earned a Master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from MIT -- served as the commander of the NASA SpaceX Crew-3 mission that launched on November 10, 2021, to the International Space Station (ISS).

"He served on the space station as part of Expedition 66 and 67 before returning to Earth on May 6, 2022, completing NASA's third long-duration commercial crew mission," event organizers said.

The international crew of four spent 177 days in orbit, giving the U.S. Naval test pilot a chance to view planet Earth from outer space.

"I think the thing that’s most striking is there’s a whole lot of water, which I guess academically I knew that more than two-thirds of the Earth is water," Chari told The Courier in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

"But when you see it out the window and just about every time you go to look out the window, it’s water. And then, when there is land, it goes by pretty quickly compared to how long it takes to get over the oceans," Chari said during the January 2021 interview.

"The next most striking thing is it’s really hard to figure out where you’re at without cheating and using a map. I think it’s just a testament to the fact that there’s really no borders or lines other than the ones we create.

"And so, when you look at it, the Earth from space, it’s just one homogeneous mass of different land masses and water. It’s pretty cool and enlightening, I think, to think of it that way, and also realizing the fragility of it."

Col. Chari graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy and went on to earn a Master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

He is also a graduate of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and has received numerous military service medals, as well as the NASA Distinguished Service Medal and the NASA Space Exploration Medal.

The presentation is sponsored by the SMC Associates (, a private organization that funds speakers and special programs on campus.

A Zoom link will be posted shortly before the event at the June 1 listing on the SMC Events calendar at To attend, the Zoom software must be installed on the viewer’s computer. A free download is available at

More information is available by calling the SMC Office of Public Programs at 310-434-4100.

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