NASA has named commercial space tech veteran A.C. Charania the agency’s new chief technologist, where he will lead technology innovation and serve as the principal advisor on technology policy and programs.

As the chief technologist, Charania is responsible for aligning NASA’s agency-wide technology investments with mission needs across six mission directorates and overseeing technology collaboration with other Federal agencies, the private sector, and external stakeholders.

“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,” Bhavya Lal, NASA’s associate administrator for technology, policy, and strategy, said in a statement. “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.”

Lal served as acting chief technologist before the appointment of Charania, whose first day working at NASA Headquarters was Jan. 3.

Before joining NASA, Charania served as vice president of product strategy at Reliable Robotics, a firm that works to bring certified autonomous vehicles to commercial aviation. He’s also worked with Blue Origin to mature its lunar permanence strategy, Blue Moon lunar lander program, and multiple technology initiatives with NASA.

Charania also worked in strategy and business development for the Virgin Galactic 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 also 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.

“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,” said Charania. “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.”

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Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez
Lisbeth Perez is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.