Meet Anil Menon, son of Indian immigrant selected by Nasa to become astronaut – India Today

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With plans afoot to return to the Moon with a longer presence this time and head towards Mars next, Nasa introduced ten new astronaut candidates to the world. Among them is Dr Anil Menon, who has been selected to go through two years of rigorous training before being inducted into missions ranging from research onboard the International Space Station to landing on the lunar surface and then to Mars.
Anil Menon is part of the 2021 astronaut class, the first in four years, which has six men and four women, who were introduced to the world by Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson. The 10 candidates have been selected from among 12,000 applicants who had applied for the coveted job.
Besides combat and test pilots, the astronaut candidates include a medical physicist, drilling specialist, maritime roboticist, Nasa-turned-SpaceX flight surgeon and bioengineer who was a champion cyclist. Two astronauts from the United Arab Emirates will train with them. It is to be noted that NASA has accepted 360 people into its astronaut corps since the original Mercury Seven in 1959. The previous astronaut selection was in 2017.
Born to Ukrainian and Indian immigrants, Anil Menon is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force. 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.
Dr Menon already has working experience with Nasa as the crew flight surgeon for various expeditions on the International Space Station. The 45-year-old is a practising emergency medicine physician with fellowship training in wilderness and aerospace medicine. According to his Nasa profile, Menon was the first responder during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, and the 2011 Reno Air Show accident.
He got his bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology from Harvard University in 1999 with a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 2004. In 2009, he graduated with a Doctor of Medicine from Stanford Medical School. During his Harvard years, Menon researched Huntington’s disease and spent a year in India as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to study and support polio vaccination. Menon joined the California Air National Guard and gained experience in wilderness medicine through support for remote adventure races like Racing The Planet.
He was deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom and worked for the Himalayan Rescue Association to care for climbers on Mount Everest. Menon later transferred to the 173rd Fighter Wing for military duty and pursued a residency in aerospace medicine. As a flight instructor, he has logged over 1,000 hours as a pilot.
He is married to Anna Menon, who works at SpaceX, and they have two children.
Apart from Anil Menon, Nasa has selected nine others for future missions to be trained as astronauts. The nine new candidates are:
Nichole Ayers: Major in the US Air Force, she is an experienced combat aviator with more than 200 combat hours and more than 1,150 hours of total flight time in the T-38 and the F-22 Raptor fighter jet. Ayers is one of the few women currently flying the F-22, in 2019 Ayers led the first-ever all-woman formation of the aircraft in combat.
Marcos Berríos: Major in US Air Force, he is a test pilot, who has accumulated more than 110 combat missions and 1,300 hours of flight time in more than 21 different aircraft.
Christina Birch: A decorated track cyclist on the US National Team, she has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biophysics.
Deniz Burnham: Lieutenant in US Navy, she is an experienced leader in the energy industry, managing onsite drilling projects throughout North America, including in Alaska, Canada, and Texas.
Luke Delaney: The retired US Marine Corps major is a distinguished naval aviator who participated in exercises throughout the Asia Pacific region and conducted combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As a test pilot, he executed numerous flights evaluating weapon systems integration, and he served as a test pilot instructor.
Andre Douglas: He served in the US Coast Guard as a naval architect, salvage engineer, damage control assistant, and officer of the deck.
Jack Hathaway: Commander in US Navy, as a naval aviator, Hathaway flew and deployed with Navy’s Strike Fighter Squadron 14 aboard the USS Nimitz and Strike Fighter Squadron 136 aboard the USS Truman.
Christopher Williams: He was the lead physicist for the Institute’s MRI-guided adaptive radiation therapy program. His research focused on developing image guidance techniques for cancer treatments.
Jessica Wittner: Lieutenant commander in US Navy, Wittner is a graduate of US Naval Test Pilot School, she also worked as a test pilot and project officer with Air Test and Evaluation Squadron.
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