Anil Menon is an Indian origin – SpaceX Medical Director who was chosen by NASA in December 2021 as one of its astronauts for its future missions. A team of ten astronauts were selected by NASA on the basis of interviews, aptitude tests, and medical examinations on 17 December 2021. Anil also works as a lieutenant colonel in the US Air Force.
Anil Menon was born in 1976 (age 45 years; as of 2021) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In 1995, he completed his school education at Saint Paul Academy and Summit School. In 1999, he completed A.B. in Neurobiology at Harvard College. In 2001, Anil earned the Rotary Ambassadorial Fellow in Medicine and Malayalam at Jawaharlal Nehru University. In 2003, he went to Stanford University to pursue MS in Mechanical Engineering. In 2006, he received the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) degree in Medicine at Stanford Medical School. In 2009, he earned Emergency Medicine Residency Certificate in Emergency Medicine at Stanford-Kaiser. In 2010, he received the Wilderness Medicine Fellowship at Stanford University. In 2011, he went to the University of Texas in Medical Branch at Galveston to pursue a Master’s Degree in StudyPublic Health. In 2012, he earned the Aerospace Medicine Fellowship in Aerospace Physiology and Medicine at The University of Texas. Anil Menon’s LinkedIn Account
Height (approx.): 5′ 11″
Hair Colour: Black
Eye Colour: Black
Parents & Siblings
His father’s name is Shunkaran Menon.
His mother’s name is Lisa Samoilenko.
His father-in-law’s name is Chandler Wilhelm.
His mother-in-law’s name is Laura Wilhelm.
Wife & Children
Anil Menon got married to Anna Wilhelm on 15 October 2016 at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 5501 Main St at Houston, TX 77004. Anna Wilhelm is a Lead Space Operations Engineer at SpaceX.
The couple has two children.
He was in a relationship with Anna Wilhelm before getting married to her.
Anil Menon joined the Department of Neurology of Harvard University in June 1997 as a researcher. He then started working as an engineer at BioVis Technology Center, Mountain View, California in 2001. He then began serving as an Emergency Medicine Physician at Area Hospitals in Los Angeles, California from 2009 to 2011. In October 2011, Anil began working as a Flight Surgeon at Wyle Integrated Science and Engineering Group in Houston, Texas. Anil joined NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Houston, Texas as a Flight Surgeon in 2014. In 2018, Anil started working as Medical Director at SpaceX in Greater Los Angeles. Anil helped to launch SpaceX’s first human flight and worked in the research and development of the starship and also attended the private astronaut programs. In 2020, at SpaceX, Anil helped Elon Musk in launching the Demo – 2 mission (humans to space in future missions) where he helped in its medical organisation. On 17 December 2021, Anil Menon was chosen as one of the candidates from a total of ten astronauts by NASA for its future missions.
Lieutenant Colonel at US Air Force
In 2008, Anil joined the US Airforce as a part-time Lieutenant Colonel at US Air Force Reserve, Patrick, AFB.
Anil Menon is associated with National Basketball Association (NBA) as an Event Physician since January 2019.
In 2010, Anil was a volunteer at Haiti Earthquake, and in 2015, at Nepal Earthquake and served as a Physician with the International Medical Corps Cause under Disaster and Humanitarian Relief. Anil voluntarily served at the 2011 Reno Air Show accident where he logged over 100 sorties and transported over 100 patients. Anil was a part of a polio vaccination drive in India for a year when he was a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar.
Licences and Certifications
The licences and certificates received by Anil Menon include Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine, Board Certified in Emergency Medicine, Board Certified in Aerospace Medicine, Aviation Medical Examiner, and State Medical Licenses.
- Theodore Lyster Award
- SpaceX “Kick-Ass” Award
- NASA JSC Group Achievement award for Expedition 45 Medical Team
- U.S. Air Force Commendation Medal
- 173rd Fighter Wing Category V Airmen of the Year
- William K. Douglas Award in Aerospace Medicine (UTMB)
- Air Force Voluntary Service Medal
- Stanford Emergency Medicine Resident Award for Procedural Excellence
- Stanford Emergency Medicine Residency Bedside Teaching Award
- National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Alliance Grant
- Stanford Medical Scholars
- Hoopes Prize for outstanding and original undergraduate thesis
- Summa cum laude with highest honours for undergraduate thesis
- John Harvard Scholar, Harvard National Scholar
- Harvard College Dean’s Summer Research Award
- Jewett Community Service Award
- Westinghouse Science Talent Search Finalist
- Rensselaer Medal for Math and Science Achievement
- National Science Foundation Young Scholars Grant
- Anil Menon was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His father was an Indian immigrant, and his mother was a Ukrainian immigrant. In India, Anil’s family belongs to Ottappalam. Anil Menon’ mother lives in the US, and his father and grandmother live in New Delhi in India. Sankaran Nair was Anil Menon’s great grandfather who was a lawyer of the viceroy’s council of Kerala when Kerala was a part of Madras.
- Anil Menon studied both engineering and doctorate fields as he wanted to apply at NASA. In an interview with a media house, Anil stated that it was crucial to know both the languages of doctors and engineers when one was working at NASA. He clarified it with an example,
I think working in space and at NASA is really good to combine engineering with some science. Thus, for the Dragon vehicle, several engineering questions arise, but also require medical approaches. For example, in the sanitary stabilization system you need to know the percentage of oxygen and other similar parameters. It is therefore important to know the language of engineers and doctors.”
He further stated that astronauts in space liked the spicy Indian food very much due to the medical facts involved in it. He explained,
When people are in space, food tastes different because your nose gets stuffy because liquid starts floating up there. So I have heard a lot of astronauts say that Indian food is their favorite food because it is spicier. It is a medical fact.”
- Anil was one of the flight commandants at Afghanistan’s Operation Enduring Freedom mission that continued from 2001 to 2014. Once, he was also a part of the rescue team for the climbers at Mount Everest by ‘Himalayan Rescue Association.’
- Several articles in the scientific field are drafted by Anil Menon. He often delivers lectures on general aviation as a certified flight instructor in the US.
- In his free time, Anil Menon likes to explore the endurance races like Ironman and Kokoro.
- In 2013, Anil met his wife Anna at their friend’s party where they dance together to Carly Rae Jepsen’s song ‘Call Me Maybe.’ Anil wrapped his arm around Anna while talking to a media person that left Anna surprised for a while.
- During his visits to India, Anil likes Kerala the most. In an interview with a media house, Anil expressed that spending time in India helped him a lot in preparing for his job. He talked about the diverse cultural beauty of India. He said,
Kerala has a special place in my heart. People are so welcoming but they are a little surprised when they hear my accent. They are so warm and welcoming. Spending time in India really helped prepare me for this job, as these are the same skills that I will need to apply as an astronaut in the future. India is such a diverse multicultural place, every state has a different language, a different culture and there is so much history.”
- In December 2021, the ten candidates were selected by NASA for its future missions from a pool of 12000 applicants. These ten candidates went through several interview rounds, team exercises, medical examinations and aptitude tests. The training to these ten candidates at NASA was announced to be started in January 2022 which is a two years training named Astronaut Candidate training programme. The training includes military water survival exercises, fly Nasa’s T-38 training jets, scuba-qualified for the spacewalk training. In a press conference, Anil Menon described his experience after being chosen as the NASA astronaut candidate. He said,
I was in California and got a call. The person started talking about the Dragon capsule because I was working at SpaceX at the time. I thought it was a business call. And halfway through, it turned out to be a joke. The Chief of the Astronaut Office said ‘I’m just kidding, do you want to be an astronaut?’ and I said, ‘Sign me up’.”
- Anil was seen excited while talking to a media house after being chosen as the candidate of NASA in December 2021. He wished to visit space in future to experience the body changes there. He said,
Since I love space medicine, I’m excited to find out how the body changes in space. I would like to study about it and bring it back to the community, so I can share the knowledge with others.”