“We’re going back to the Moon, and we’re continuing on to Mars – and so today we welcome 10 new explorers.” With this statement, NASA administrator Bill Nelson welcomed the 10 new astronaut candidates who were chosen among more than 12,000 applicants to represent the US and work for humanity’s benefit in Space. Among them was Anil Menon.
Ranging from a firefighter turned Harvard professor, to a former member of the national cycle team, and a pilot who led the first-ever all-woman F-22 formation in combat; NASA’s new member crew is vibrant with diverse areas of interest and expertise. Among the 10 chosen by NASA for future missions, Indian-origin physician Anil Menon also made it to the list. The 2021 class will report for duty in January 2022 at the Johnson Space Center in Texas, where they will undergo two years of training.
NASA’s 2021 Astronaut Class: Indian origin Anil Menon got picked
Among the 10 astronauts picked by NASA, Anil Menon is a lieutenant colonel at the US Air Force, who was SpaceX’s first flight surgeon, who helped to launch the company’s first humans to space during NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission and building a medical organisation to support the human system during future missions. Born to Indian and Ukrainian parents, Anil Menon is raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
An active practising emergency medicine physician, he was also the first responder during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, and the 2011 Reno Air Show accident. In the Air Force, he supported the 45th Space Wings as a flight surgeon and the 173rd Fighter Wing, where he logged over 100 sorties in the F015 fighter jet and subsequently transported over 100 patients as part of the critical care air transport team.
The recruits who will shape the future space missions:
Ranging from 32 to 45 years in age, the 10 candidates will learn how to operate and maintain the International Space Station, train for spacewalks, develop robotics skills, safely operate a T-38 training jet, and learn Russian to communicate with their counterparts.
“Alone, each candidate has ‘the right stuff,’ but together they represent the creed of our country: E Pluribus Unum – out of many, one,” Bill Nelson further added.
After they graduate, they could be assigned to missions aboard the ISS or deeper into space, including NASA’s planned return to the Moon later this decade under the Artemis mission, which will include the first woman and person of colour to set foot on lunar soil. The field was open to US citizens who hold a master’s degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field. This is the first time such a requirement was added and passed an online test. The master’s degree requirement could also be met by a medical degree or completion of a test pilot program.