Seems like its Indians all the way for not only the Silicon Valley but also for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Among the ten new astronaut candidates introduced by the space agency was Dr Anil Menon. Dr Menon was inducted into missions ranging from research onboard the International Space Station to landing on the lunar surface and then to Mars.
Anil Menon is a part of the 2021 astronaut class, which was introduced by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. This is the first such class in 4 years. These candidates will report for duty in January 2022 to begin two years of training. The astronaut candidate training is slotted into five categories – operating and maintaining the International Space Station’s complex systems, training for spacewalks, developing complex robotic skills, safely operating a T-38 training jet and Russian language skills.
Selected candidates apart from Menon are Nichole Ayers (32), Marcos Berrios (37), Christina Birch (35), Deniz Burnham (36), Luke Delaney (42), Andre Douglas (35), Jack Hathaway (39), Christopher Williams (38) and Jessica Wittner (38).
“Each of you has amazing backgrounds,” Pam Melroy, former NASA astronaut and NASA’s deputy administrator said. “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,” she added.
Apart from being one of the Indian astronauts selected by NASA, Dr Menon was born and raised in Minnesota in Minneapolis. Dr Menon, who is also a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force, was SpaceX’s first flight surgeon and helped launch the company’s first humans to space during the NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission and building a medical organisation to support human system during future missions. Before working at SpaceX, he served NASA as the crew flight surgeon for expeditions taking astronauts to the International Space Station, as per the NASA release.
Besides this, Dr Anil Menon is a practicing emergency physician. He has fellowship training in wilderness and aerospace medicine. He was also the first responder during the 2010 Haiti earthquake, 2011 Reno Air Show accident and 2015 Nepal earthquake. During his stint as the US Air Force pilot, he supported the 45th Space Wing as a flight surgeon and 173rd Fighter Wing. Dr Menon logged 100 sorties in the F-15 fighter jet and transported over 100 patients as part of the critical care air transport team.
Meanwhile, Dr Anil Menon is not the only Indian-origin professional to play a role in realising America’s space ambitions. Indians like Raja Jon Vurputoor Chari, Bhavya Lall, Sirisha Bandla, Bob Balram and Dr Swati Mohan have also made a name for themselves in the US space scene.
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