Anna Menon is an American astronaut and a lead space operations engineer at SpaceX, who was chosen as a crew member for the 2022 space mission ‘Polaris Dawn’ on 14 February 2022.
Anna Wilhelm Menon hails from Houston, Texas.
She first dreamed of flying to space in fourth grade when her teacher Alison Smith Balch (daughter of Space Shuttle Challenger pilot Michael J. Smith) took her to NASA’s Johnson Space Center. At the space center, Anna experienced a day in the life of an astronaut and flight controller in Mission Control center, which left her mesmerized.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Spanish from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas, she pursued her master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering at Duke University in North Carolina.
Height (approx.): 5′ 5″
Hair Color: Medium Blonde
Eye Color: Light Brown
Parents & Siblings
Anna Menon’s father’s name is Chandler Wilhelm, and her mother’s name is Laura Wilhelm.
She has two siblings, a sister, Rachel Wilhelm, and a brother, Alex Wilhelm.
Husband & Children
On 15 October 2016, she got married to the Indian-American physician Anil Menon at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 5501 Main St at Houston, TX 77004. Anil is a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force, emergency medicine physician, and NASA astronaut candidate. Born to a Ukrainian mother and Indian father, Anil was raised in Minnesota US. Together, they have a son named James Menon (born in 2018), and a daughter named Grace Elizabeth Menon (born in 2020).
In 2013, Anna Wilhelm made acquaintance with Anil Menon at a mutual friend’s party, where they danced together to Carly Rae Jepsen’s song ‘Call Me Maybe.’ At the party, Anil wrapped his arm around Anna while talking to the media, a gesture that left Anna surprised. At that time, they were working together at NASA. Consequently, after three dates, Anil proposed to Anna for marriage at Lucy Peveto’s art gallery.
Before joining SpaceX, she worked as a biomedical flight controller at NASA for seven years. At NASA, she assisted space station crews from mission control center, helped to integrate international partner engineers and medical care, and led the planning and execution of all biomedical operations for Expedition 47/48.
Apart from being a mission director, the engineer also serves as a crew communicator for SpaceX. She has managed the development of crew operations and served in mission control at SpaceX. Headquartered in Hawthorne, California, SpaceX is an American aerospace manufacturer and provider of space transportation services, founded by tech billionaire Elon Musk. At SpaceX, Menon led the implementation of Dragon’s crew capabilities and has also aided in the development of the crew communicator operator role. The Dragon spacecraft developed by SpaceX is known for its capability of returning significant amounts of cargo to Earth and is the first private spacecraft to take humans to the space station. She also developed operational responses for vehicle emergencies, such as fire and cabin depressurisation, a process in which conditioned air is pumped into the spacecraft to create a safe and comfortable environment for crew flying at high altitudes. She has served in mission control during multiple cargo and crew Dragon missions including Demo-2, Crew-1. CRS-22 and CRS-23. On 14 February 2022, she was chosen to be part of the crew of the space mission ‘Polaris Dawn,’ a planned private human spaceflight mission, operated by SpaceX on behalf of Shift4 Payments CEO Jared Isaacman. The human spaceflight was set to launch in the fourth quarter of 2022 from the Kennedy Space Center of NASA in Florida, the United States. For the spaceflight, she served as the medical officer and mission specialist. Apart from Jared Isaacman and Anna Menon, the crew consists of American pilot Scott Poteet and American astronaut Sarah Gillis.
- In her leisure time, Anna enjoys hiking, flying small airplanes, and doing salsa dance.
- She appeared in the 2021 American five-part docuseries ‘Countdown: Inspiration4 Mission to Space,’ which was released and streamed on Netflix.
- During the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, she actively worked with the World Health Organization (WHO) for water and sanitation response. She has also volunteered with the NGOs Engineers Without Borders and Engineering World Health.
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