Indian-origin Anil Menon named in NASA's newest astronaut class

WION Web Team
New Delhi Published: Dec 07, 2021, 04:35 PM(IST)

In this photo released by NASA and recieved by AFP on December 6, 2021, Astronaut candidate (ASCAN), Anil Menon, poses for a photo as part of the ASCAN Class of 2021 Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Anil Menon is a fighter pilot in US Air Force. Astronauts from NASA's newest list of names could be assigned to missions aboard the ISS or deeper into space, including NASA's planned return to the Moon later this decade under the Artemis mission, which will include the first woman and person of color to set foot on lunar soil. 

NASA announced its fresh class of trainee astronauts on Tuesday. Anil Menon, a US fighter pilot born to parents from India and Ukraine has been named in the newest list.

Anil Menon (45), a lieutenant colonel in US Air Force was first direct responder during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, 2015 earthquake in Nepal and 2011 Reno Air Show accident.

Menon was previously a first flight surgeon with SpaceX. He had a stint with NASA before that.

There are 10 astronaut trainees including Menon in NASA's newest list. The list includes 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.

NASA's latest list includes 10 names including that of Menon. The list includes a firefighter turned Harvard professor, a former member of the national cycle team and others.

"We're going back to the Moon, and we're continuing on to Mars -- and so today we welcome 10 new explorers," NASA administrator Bill Nelson said at an event to welcome the recruits.

"Alone, each candidate has 'the right stuff,' but together they represent the creed of our country: E pluribus unum – out of many, one," he added.

The 10 candidates have been shortlisted from 12,000 applicants. Inclusion in this list however, does not guarantee that each of them would get to become an astronaut. All of them will now undergo a rigorous training program that will go on for two years. All of the trainees will learn how to operate and maintain the International Space Station, train for spacewalks, develop robotics skills, safely operate a T-38 training jet, and learn Russian to communicate with their counterparts.

After they graduate, they could be assigned to missions aboard the ISS or deeper into space, including NASA's planned return to the Moon later this decade under the Artemis mission, which will include the first woman and person of color to set foot on lunar soil.

The field was open to US citizens who hold a master's degree in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) field -- the first time such a requirement was added -- and passed an online test. The master's degree requirement could also be met by a medical degree or completion of a test pilot program.

(With inputs from agencies)

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