SpaceX’s first flight surgeon, Indian-origin Dr Anil Menon, is among the new recruits who will report for duty in January 2022 for NASA’s 2021 Astronaut Candidate Class, which will train for the agency’s future missions.
Menon, 45, was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota to Ukrainian and Indian immigrant parents, having previously served NASA as a crew flight surgeon for various missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
A lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force, Menon is married to Anna Menon who works at SpaceX, and they have two children.
Menon also spoke about his Indian roots and his love for spices. He told the Indian Express that for most astronauts, Indian food was at the top of space because of its spices.
“When people are in space, food tastes different because your nose gets stuffed up as the liquid starts to float up. That’s why I have heard from a lot of astronauts that Indian food is their favorite food because it is spicier. It’s a medical fact.”
He also said that he loves Kerala because his father is from there, and he recently took his wife to God’s own country. “Kerala has a special place in my heart. People are very welcoming. They are very warm and inviting. Spending time in India really helped me prepare for this job, as it is the same skill that I would need to apply as an astronaut in the future,” he told The Indian Express.
Menon was the first responder during the Haiti earthquake in 2010, the 2015 Nepal earthquake, and the 2011 Reno Air Show crash as a physician. In the Air Force, Menon supported the 45th Space Wing and 173rd Fighter Wing as a flight surgeon, where he made over 100 flights in an F-15 fighter jet and over 100 patients as part of the critical care air transport team. was taken away.