The European Space Agency (ESA) has appointed the first parastronaut with the aim of carrying a disabled person into space for the first time.
Doctor and former British Paralympic sprinter John McFall has been named by ESA among 16 other newcomers to take part in a feasibility study that will allow the necessary conditions to be assessed so that it can eventually be part of a future space mission.
John McFall, the first paratronaut in history
east advertisement unprecedented, right now it doesn’t guarantee McFall, 41, can travel to space. The participation of the specialist in traumatology and orthopedics at ESA is focused on the task of developing hardware that will provide people with disabilities with optimal conditions for professional work in space.
McFall is now one of six new professional astronauts and eleven reserve astronauts in training for the European Space Agency.
ESA has not accepted any new astronauts into its ranks since 2009. The call was published last year and called not only for people who can pass their regular astronaut tests, but also for people who would be prevented from becoming astronauts under current working conditions to face restrictions present in the hardware used, in relation to their disability.
257 people applied for the position dedicated to ESA’s first paratronaut. McFall was selected to participate in a viability study of astronauts with disabilities to improve understanding of this condition and to overcome the barriers that space travel poses for astronauts with a physical disability.
John McFall was in a motorcycle accident when he was 19 and his right leg was amputated. Years later, he began a sports career marked by the milestone of winning the bronze medal in the 100-meter dash at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.
“It was quite an exhilarating experience because, as an amputee, I never thought that becoming an astronaut would be a possibility, so the excitement was a huge thrill.”McFall explains in a interview published by ESA. “I think the message I want to convey to future generations is that science is for everyone and hopefully space can be for everyone.”he added.
The goal of integrating parastronauts into future space missions is a goal that ESA shares with NASA. For this reason, both space agencies will jointly develop the feasibility study in which McFall will participate.
Among the advances tracked by this study, the creation of safe working conditions for crew, the development of adaptations for spacecraft and other working tools used in manned space missions stand out.
If this first phase is successful, the study will represent a significant advance, making spaceflight a truly accessible experience for any capable person, regardless of physical condition.
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