Indian-origin doctor Anil Menon has been selected along with nine others to be astronauts for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)'s future space missions, the US agency announced.
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to Ukrainian and Indian immigrant parents, 45-year-old Menon has previously served NASA as the crew flight surgeon for various expeditions on the International Space Station (ISS). A lieutenant colonel at the US Air Force, Menon is married to Anna Menon who works at SpaceX, and they share two children.
The new group of NASA astronauts will have some exciting spaceflight opportunities ahead of them that will potentially include flights to the Moon someday, the space agency announced.
According to The Verge, NASA announced the selection of its 2021 class of astronauts on Monday from more than 12,000 people who applied to the space agency in March of 2020. Among those who have been selected are six men and four women.
Menon, who will be reporting for duty in January 2022, was American aerospace corporation SpaceX's first flight surgeon, who helped to launch its first humans to space during the Demo-2 mission and in building a medical organization to support the human system during future missions, as per his official NASA profile.
Apart from Menon, the new astronauts who have been selected include Nichole Ayers, Marcos Berrios, Christina Birch, Deniz Burnham, Luke Delaney, Andre Douglas, Jack Hathaway, Christopher Williams, and Jessica Wittner.
CNN reported NASA's administrator, Bill Nelson, introduced the group live from Ellington Field near the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston, where the candidates will spend the majority of the next two years training.
"Today we welcome 10 new explorers, 10 members of the Artemis generation, NASA's 2021 astronaut candidate class. Alone, each candidate has 'the right stuff,' but together they represent the creed of our country: E pluribus unum -- out of many, one," Nelson said.
Former NASA astronaut and the space agency's deputy administrator, Pam Melroy said, "Each of you has amazing backgrounds. You bring diversity in so many forms to our astronaut corps and you stepped up to one of the highest and most exciting forms of public service."
Most of the group has some kind of military experience, with various members currently or formerly enrolled in the US Air Force and Navy.
As per The Verge, they will be part of the so-called Artemis Generation. The name is a reference to NASA's Artemis program, which aims to send the first woman and the first person of color to the lunar surface as early as 2025 (a landing date that is considered incredibly ambitious).
The program calls for launching astronauts on a series of flights into deep space on NASA's new massive rocket, the Space Launch System, or SLS, eventually culminating with humans landing on the Moon once again.