• Monday, May 16, 2022


Indian-origin Anna Menon among crew of new space mission

Anna Menon, wife of Indian-origin physician Anil Menon, is a Lead Space Operations Engineer at SpaceX (Photo: Twitter)

By: Pramod Thomas

INDIAN-ORIGIN Anna Menon will be among the crew of a new space mission announced by US billionaire Jared Isaacman, who last year led the world’s first all-private space crew into orbit. 

Menon, a SpaceX engineer, is the wife of Indian-origin physician Anil Menon. At SpaceX she manages the development of crew operations and serves in mission control as both a mission director and crew communicator, a company statement said.

Besides Isaacman, the crew includes Menon, a veteran member of Isaacman’s team Scott Poteet and SpaceX employee Sarah Gillis.

The first mission is named Polaris Dawn, which is targeted to launch no earlier than the fourth quarter of 2022 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

According to the statement, it will consist of up to three human spaceflight missions that will demonstrate new technologies, conduct extensive research, and ultimately culminate in the first flight of SpaceX’s Starship with humans on board.

Anil Menon, 45, lieutenant colonel, US Air Force, speaks at the NASA’s 2021 Astronaut Candidate announcement event on December 6, 2021 at Ellington Field in Houston (Photo by THOMAS SHEA/AFP via Getty Images)

Menon is a Lieutenant Colonel at the US Air Force, who was selected by NASA in December last year along with nine others to be astronauts for future missions.

During her tenure at SpaceX, Menon has led the implementation of Dragon’s crew capabilities, helped create the crew communicator operator role, and developed critical operational responses to vehicle emergencies, such as a fire or cabin depressurisation. She also served in mission control during multiple cargo and crew Dragon missions, including Demo-2, Crew-1, CRS-22, and CRS-23.

Prior to SpaceX, she worked for seven years at NASA as a biomedical flight controller for the International Space Station. Apart from pursuing her lifelong passion for space, she enjoys hiking, flying small aeroplanes, and salsa dancing and her greatest love is her family, including husband Anil, son James, and daughter Grace, the statement added. 

“Dragon and the Polaris Dawn crew will spend up to five days in orbit, during which the crew will attempt the first-ever commercial spacewalk, conduct scientific research designed to advance both human health on Earth and our understanding of human health during future long-duration spaceflights, and be the first crew to test Starlink laser-based communications in space, providing valuable data for future space communications systems necessary for missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond,” SpaceX said.

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