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Who Is Anil Menon, the Indian-Origin Doctor Picked by NASA to be an Astronaut

NASA has announced its 10 latest trainee astronauts and among them is Indian-origin doctor Anil Menon. Here’s what you should know about the flight surgeon who helped launch Elon Musk-run SpaceX’s first humans to space during the ‘Demo-2’ mission.

Indian-origin physician Anil Menon is among the ten people chosen by NASA as astronauts for the organisation’s upcoming missions. He is also a lieutenant colonel with the US Air Force.

In a press release, NASA announced that it has chosen 10 new candidates from a pool of more than 12,000 applicants to represent the US and work for humanity’s benefit in space.

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

Anil, in an interview with The Indian Express said, “You can never be too confident with 12,000 people applying for 10 jobs. There are definitely a lot of qualified people. It came as a big surprise, surprises are good.”

“I was in California and got a call. The person started talking about the Dragon capsule because I was working at SpaceX at the time. I thought it was a business call. And halfway through, it turned out to be a joke. The Chief of the Astronaut Office said ‘I’m just kidding, do you want to be an astronaut?’ and I said, ‘Sign me up’,” shared Anil in an interview.

When asked about his fondness for India, he said, “As someone from India, I’m happy to represent the larger world. Spending time in India really helped set me up for this job, because it is those same skills that I’ll need to apply as an astronaut in the future.”

The candidates will report for duty in January 2022 to begin two years of training.

Meanwhile, here are some interesting things to know about the 45-year-old genius:

  • Anil was born to a Malayali father and Ukrainian mother in Minneapolis, US.
  • According to his LinkedIn profile, Anil holds multiple degrees, licenses and certifications including medicine and engineering.
  • He is a graduate in Neurobiology from Harvard University (1995).
  • Even though he completed his education from various universities in the US, he went to India between 1999 and 2001 as a Rotary Ambassadorial Fellow at Jawaharlal Nehru University.
  • During his period in India, Anil also participated in the country’s anti-polio drive.
  • He attained MS in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and MD from Stanford Medical School between 2000-2006.
  • He also holds degrees in Aerospace Medicine, Emergency Medicine, Public Health and Wilderness Medicine.
  • He was among the first respondents during the earthquakes in Haiti (2010), Nepal (2015) and 2011 Reno Air Show accident.
  • He was SpaceX’s first flight surgeon from 2014-2018, who helped to launch the company’s first humans to space during NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission.
  • He also helped SpaceX build a medical organisation to support the human system during its future missions.
  • 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.
  • He is the recipient of the Theodore C Lyster Award, presented for outstanding achievement in aerospace medicine, NASA JSC Award, and the US Airforce Commemorative Medal.
  • He has also published more than 20 scientific articles.
  • If he successfully completes the programme, Anil could be the first Malayali in space.

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