Indian-origin Anil Menon, a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force and SpaceX’s first flight surgeon, has been chosen by NASA as one of ten new astronauts who could one day fly to the Moon.
Menon, who was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, assisted in the launch of Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s first humans into space during the ‘Demo-2’ mission, as well as the development of a medical organisation to support the human system during future missions.
He also spent a year in India as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar researching and advocating for polio vaccination. Prior to that, he worked for NASA as a crew flight surgeon on various expeditions to the International Space Station (ISS). Menon is an emergency medicine physician who has completed fellowships in wilderness and aerospace medicine.
He was a first specialist as a physician during the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the 2015 Nepal earthquake, and the 2011 Reno Air Show accident. Menon served in the Air Force as a flight surgeon for the 45th Space Wing and the 173rd Fighter Wing, where he flew over 100 sorties in the F-15 fighter jet and transported over 100 patients as part of the critical care air transport team.
The United States Space Agency announced the selection of its newest class of astronauts late on Monday — six men and four women chosen from more than 12,000 people who applied to the space agency in March 2020. They will have some exciting spaceflight opportunities ahead of them once they have completed their training and become full astronauts, which could include flights to the Moon someday.
The astronauts are participants of the Artemis Generation. The name alludes to NASA’s Artemis programme, which aims to send the first woman and first person of colour to the moon’s surface as early as 2025.
“Today, we welcome ten new explorers — ten Artemis generation members.” “During the ceremony, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson stated. “It was the Apollo generation, and they accomplished so much for so many people.” It is now the Artemis generation’s turn.”
Menon studied neurobiology and conducted Huntington’s disease research at Harvard University. He studied engineering and medicine at Stanford Medical School and worked on coding soft tissue models at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.
He deployed twice with the US Air Force critical care air transport team during his aerospace training to treat and transport wounded warriors. He was later assigned to the Air Force reserves, 45th operational group, Detachment 3 of the 45th Space Wing, to provide medical direction for launch and landings.
Menon joined SpaceX in 2018, where he helped promote the company’s medical programme and helped prepare for its first human flights. He was the lead flight surgeon for five launches, and he helped launch their research programme, private astronaut programmes, and Starship development.
Menon began working as a NASA flight surgeon in 2014. As the deputy crew surgeon for Soyuz missions Soyuz 39 and Soyuz 43, and the prime crew surgeon for Soyuz 52, he offered support to four long-duration crew members on the International Space Station.