A Minnesota native could be among the next NASA astronauts to go to the moon.
Dr. Anil Menon, 45, who was born and raised in Minneapolis, is among the 10 people who've been picked for NASA's new astronaut candidate class, marking the first such group in four years.
He and the other members of his class were picked from a field of more than 12,000 applicants. NASA administrator Bill Nelson introduced the new astronaut class on Monday.
The would-be astronauts report for duty at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston in January 2022 to begin two years of training on things like operating and maintaining the International Space Station, training on spacewalks, developing robotics skills, operating a training jet and Russian language skills.
When they're done with training, they could be assigned to missions that involve research aboard the space station or be sent on deep space missions to the moon, among other assignments.
“We’ve made many giant leaps throughout the last 60 years, fulfilling President Kennedy’s goal of landing a man on the moon,” said Johnson center Director Vanessa Wyche. “Today we reach further into the stars as we push forward to the Moon once again and on to Mars with NASA’s newest astronaut candidate class.”
According to NASA, Menon is a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force and a practicing emergency medicine doctor with fellowship training in wilderness and aerospace medicine.
He graduated from St. Paul Academy in St. Paul in 1995 and went on to get his bachelor's degree in neurobiology at Harvard University in 1999. He then got a master's in mechanical engineering and a doctor of medicine from Stanford University, among other degrees. He has board certification in aerospace medicine and emergency medicine.
Menon is no stranger to space flights. He was SpaceX's first flight surgeon on the company's first flight with humans to space. And before that, he served NASA as the crew flight surgeon on various expeditions that took astronauts to the space station, including spending time in Russia.
In addition to helping with missions to space, he responded as an emergency doctor to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the 2015 earthquake in Nepal.
The addition of the 10 members of the 2021 astronaut candidate class brings the total number of astronauts NASA has selected since 1959 to 360. This year's class was the first year NASA required candidates to have a master's degree in a STEM field.
You can read more about Menon and the other nine astronaut candidates here.