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Minnesota native among elite NASA astronaut class

Dr. Anil Menon is one of 10 candidates selected to undergo intensive training for future NASA missions.
Credit: NASA
NASA Astronaut Candidate Anil Menon

HOUSTON — Lots of people dream of going to space, but only a few ever get the chance.

Thanks to decades of hard work and a wealth of experience, a Minnesota native could soon count himself among the lucky few to soar among the stars.

Dr. Anil Menon, a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, is among 10 candidates selected for NASA's first new astronaut class in four years. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Menon is a practicing emergency medicine physician who got his start at the Saint Paul Academy and Summit School in St. Paul before earning a Bachelor's Degree from Harvard and a medical degree from Stanford.

Before he was the first flight surgeon for SpaceX, Menon served as the NASA crew flight surgeon for multiple missions that took astronauts to the International Space Station.

While in the Air Force, Menon supported the 45th Space Wing as a flight surgeon, and the 173rd Fighter Wing where he transported over 100 patients as part of the critical care air transport team, according to NASA.

When asked about what he hopes to accomplish as an astronaut in a Twitter Q&A Monday, Menon said "to get more doctors in space!"

Menon and his fellow astronauts will report to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston in January to start a two-year training program. Once they're done, the astronaut class could be assigned to research missions aboard the space station and even trips to deep space and the moon.

More than 12,000 applications from all 50 states, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands were vying for a spot in the astronaut class. For the first time this year, NASA required all candidates have a master's degree in a STEM field.

You can read more about the 2021 Astronaut Candidate Class here.