India has a reason to smile.
On Tuesday, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) announced its ten latest trainee astronauts, which included Indian-origin Nasa-turned-SpaceX flight surgeon Anil Menon.
Menon, along with the nine others that include a firefighter-turned-Harvard professor, a former member of the national cycle team, and a pilot who led the first-ever all-woman F-22 formation in combat, chosen among the more than 12,000 applicants and will now report for duty in January at the Johnson Space Center in Texas, where they will undergo two years of training.
Here’s all we know about this Indian-origin doctor.
Born to Ukrainian and Indian immigrants, Anil Menon is a Lieutenant Colonel in the US Air Force.
Raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Menon is married to Anna Menon, who works at SpaceX, and they have two children.
According to NASA’s profile, Menon 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.
He also spent a year in India as a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar to study and support Polio vaccination.
Before his NASA and SpaceX years, Menon was the first responder during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, and the 2011 Reno Air Show accident.
He was also deployed to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom and worked for the Himalayan Rescue Association to care for climbers on Mount Everest.
In 2014, he started as a NASA flight surgeon.
He supported four long-duration crew members on the International Space Station as the deputy crew surgeon for Soyuz missions Soyuz 39 and Soyuz 43 and prime crew surgeon for Soyuz 52.
As a Human Health and Performance Directorate member, he also served as the medical lead for the health maintenance system and direct return aircraft development.
Later in 2018, Menon joined the Elon Musk company — SpaceX — where he started its medical program and helped prepare for its first human flights.
He served as the lead flight surgeon for five launches and helped start their research program, private astronaut programs, and Starship development.
Menon enjoys teaching general aviation, endurance races such as Ironman and Kokoro, and backpacking with his family in his spare time.
What next for Menon?
With the nine other trainee astronauts, Menon will report for duty in January 2022 to begin two years of training.
Astronaut candidate training falls into five major categories: operating and maintaining the International Space Station’s complex systems, training for spacewalks, developing complex robotics skills, safely using a T-38 training jet, and Russian language skills.
Upon completion, they could be assigned to missions that involve performing research aboard the space station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and deep space missions to destinations including the Moon on NASA’ ‘s Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.