Meet Anil Menon, One Among 10 New Astronauts Selected By NASA For Its Missions


New Delhi: Indian-origin Anil Menon is one of the 10 new astronaut candidates chosen by NASA from over 12,000 applicants to work for NASA’s future missions as the space agency plans for human missions to the Moon in more than 50 years.

Anil Menon, 45, is part of the 2021 astronaut class that includes six men and four women. They were introduced to the world by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson on Monday during an event at Ellington Field near Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“Today we welcome 10 new explorers, 10 members of the Artemis generation, NASA’s 2021 astronaut candidate class,” Nelson was quoted as saying on the NASA website. “Alone, each candidate has ‘the right stuff,’ but together they represent the creed of our country: E pluribus unum – out of many, one,” he said.

In January 2022, the candidates will report for duty at NASA’s Johnson Space Center and begin two years of training. The other nine astronaut candidates are US Air Force Major Nichole Ayers, US Air Force Maj. Marcos Berrios, US Marine Corps Maj. (retired.) Luke Delaney, US Navy Lt. cmdr. Jessica Wittner, US Navy Lt. Deniz Burnham, US Navy Cmdr. Jack Hathaway, Christopher Williams, Christina Birch and Andre Douglas.

Upon completion of their training, the candidates will be assigned to missions that involve performing research aboard the space station as well as deep space missions to destinations, including the Moon, on NASA’s Orion Spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

Who Is Anil Menon?

Born to Indian and Ukrainian parents and raised in Minnesota, Anil Menon is a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force and was SpaceX’s first flight surgeon.

As SpaceX’s first flight surgeon, Menon helped prepare for the company’s first human flights and built a medical organization to support the human system during future missions. He served as the lead flight surgeon for five launches. Before this, he served NASA as crew flight surgeon for various expeditions on the International Space Station.

Menon is an actively practicing emergency medicine physician with fellowship training in wilderness and aerospace medicine. He was the first responder during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, 2015 earthquake in Nepal, and the 2011 Reno Air Show accident.

He was deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom and also worked for the Himalayan Rescue Association. Menon was later transferred to the 173rd Fighter Wing for military duty. As a flight instructor, he has logged over 1,000 hours as a pilot.

Anil Menon graduated in neurobiology from Harvard University in 1999 and completed his master’s in mechanical engineering from California’s Stanford University in 2004.

At Harvard, Menon studied neurobiology and conducted research on Huntington’s disease. He also spent a year in India as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to study and support polio vaccination.

Menon is married to Anna Menon, who works at SpaceX as the lead space operations engineer, and they have two children.



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