[HOT] : Dr Anil Menon, among NASA’s new trainee astronauts

NASA Indian-born astronaut candidate Dr. Anil Menon: New recruits for NASA’s 2021 astronaut candidate class are expected to report for work in January 2022, and among them is Indian-born candidate Dr Anil Menon. Dr Menon, SpaceX’s first flight surgeon, would receive training for future NASA missions along with other new recruits, according to a report in IE. Dr Menon, who was born and raised in Minnesota, USA, was born to immigrants from Ukraine and India, and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in neurobiology as well as a master’s degree in mechanical engineering. He obtained his doctorate in medicine first in emergency medicine, then in aerospace engineering. In 2014, Dr. Menon began serving as a flight surgeon with NASA, then moved to SpaceX as the chief flight surgeon in 2018.

In an interaction with IE, Dr Menon said his selection from over 12,000 astronaut candidates came as a big surprise to him as there were 10 jobs and many qualified people applied. He added that he was excited, thrilled and happy to have this opportunity.

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Speaking of studying both medicine and engineering, the Doctor of Aerospace Medicine said he believes it is good to combine engineering with other sciences when working in the space industry. He explained that while working on the Dragon spacecraft, there were many engineering issues that also required approaches from a medical perspective.

He also explained that as the on-board surgeon for the International Space Station astronauts, he looked after the astronauts while they undertook space travel. Previously, the consultation took place virtually, with Dr. Menon on the ground and the astronauts in space. Indeed, if an astronaut got sick, he did not have a doctor nearby and therefore needed someone on the ground to turn to. Dr Menon added that if sustainable life on the Moon or on Mars is to be explored, many more doctors like him are needed and therefore aerospace medicine is a growing field.

He shared that he was the first flight surgeon at SpaceX, and there he looked after the astronauts during the launch. He was also the first person to get the astronauts in and out of the capsule.

He explained that his father was from the Malabar region and he felt happy to hear astronauts say that in space Indian food is their favorite because it is spicier. In space, the taste of food changes, Dr Menon added. He further stated that Kerala was special for him because of the warm welcome from the people. He also said that because he had spent time in India, he felt it prepared him for his role as a potential astronaut due to his diversity and multiculturalism.

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