On Wednesday, the European Space Agency launched (23) names The first “Parastronout” In a major step towards enabling people with physical disabilities to work and live in the space.
The 22-nation agency said it had selected former British Paralympic runner John McFall as part of a new generation of 17 recruits selected to train as astronauts. He will participate in a feasibility study that will allow the European Space Agency to assess the conditions necessary for people with disabilities to participate in future missions.
“It was a very turbulent experience, as as an amputee I never considered becoming an astronaut a possibility, so the excitement was a huge thrill,” McFall said in an interview posted on the ESA website.
He will join five new career astronauts and 11 reservists in training after the European Space Agency replenished its astronaut ranks for the first time since 2009.
The European Space Agency announced vacancies last year for people who are fully able to pass their usual psychological, cognitive and other tests, and who are only prevented from becoming astronauts by current hardware limitations because of their disability.
He’s received 257 applications from astronaut candidates with disabilities, a parallel role he calls “Parastronout.”
Disability equality charity Scoop called his selection a “huge leap forward”.
“Increasing the representation of people with disabilities in influential roles will really help improve attitudes and break down the barriers that many people with disabilities face today,” said Alison Kerry, Head of Communications for the charity.
After a motorcycle accident caused the amputation of his right leg at the age of 19, McFaul won the bronze medal in the 100-meter dash at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.
The agency said the 31-year-old doctor will help ESA engineers design hardware changes needed to open up professional spaceflight to a wider group of qualified applicants.
“I think the message I’m going to give to future generations is that science is for everyone and space travel can be for everyone,” McFall said.
Collaborated with Kylie McClellan in London
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