28 January 2022 8:07

Indian-origin Anil Menon among ten astronauts selected for moon mission by NASA

Menon is an actively practicing emergency medicine physician with fellowship training in wilderness and aerospace medicine.

Indian origin physician Anil Menon, a lieutenant colonel at the US Air Force, has been selected by NASA along with nine others to be astronauts for future missions, the American space agency has announced.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson introduced the members of the 2021 astronaut class, the first new class in four years, at Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston recently.

“Today we welcome 10 new explorers, 10 members of the Artemis generation, NASA’s 2021 astronaut candidate class,” Nelson said.

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“Alone, each candidate has ‘the right stuff,’ but together they represent the creed of our country: E pluribus unum – out of many, one.”

The astronauts will report for duty at Johnson in January 2022 to begin two years of training. Astronauts will be trained into five major categories: operating and maintaining the International Space Station’s complex systems, training for spacewalks, developing complex robotics skills, safely operating a T-38 training jet, and Russian language skills.

Location: JSC Mall. Photographer: Robert Markowitz
Astronaut Candidate Class of 2021. Photo Date: December 3, 2021. Location: JSC Mall. Photographer: Robert Markowitz

Upon completion, they could be assigned to missions that involve performing research aboard the space station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, as well as deep space missions to destinations including the Moon on NASA’s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

Anil Menon, 45, lieutenant colonel, U.S. Air Force, was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was SpaceX’s first flight surgeon, helping to launch the company’s first humans to space during NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission and building a medical organization to support the human system during future missions. 

He has also served NASA as the crew flight surgeon for various expeditions taking astronauts to the International Space Station. 

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

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In the Air Force, Menon supported the 45th Space Wing as a flight surgeon and the 173rd Fighter Wing, where he logged over 100 sorties in the F-15 fighter jet and transported over 100 patients as part of the critical care air transport team. 

“Each of you has amazing backgrounds,” Pam Melroy, former NASA astronaut and NASA’s deputy administrator, said to the team of 10 astronauts. “You bring diversity in so many forms to our astronaut corps and you stepped up to one of the highest and most exciting forms of public service.”

Applicants included U.S. citizens from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands. For the first time ever, NASA required candidates to hold a master’s degree in a STEM field and used an online assessment tool. 

Author: SURABHI GUPTA

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