Europe names the first disabled astronaut in history

The European Space Agency dubbed the world’s first “parastronaut” on Wednesday, marking a significant step toward permitting people with physical limitations to work and live in space.

The 22-nation organization announced that it had chosen former British Paralympic sprinter John McFall as one of 17 new candidates for astronaut training.

He will participate in a feasibility study allowing ESA to analyze the conditions required for disabled individuals to participate in future missions.

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In an interview featured on ESA’s website, McFall remarked, “It’s been quite a hectic journey, given that as an amputee, I never imagined becoming an astronaut was a possibility, so exhilaration was a tremendous emotion.”

After ESA refilled its astronaut ranks for the first time since 2009, he will join five new professional astronauts and eleven reserves in training.

Last year, ESA offered job openings for disabled individuals who can pass its customary demanding psychological, cognitive, and other assessments but are precluded from becoming astronauts due to the limitations of existing gear.

It got 257 applications for the position of an astronaut with a disability, which it calls “parastronaut.”

Charity for disability equality Scope characterized his appointment as a “significant leap forward.”

Alison Kerry, the charity’s head of communications, stated, “Better representation of disabled people in key roles will greatly assist to alter attitudes and break down obstacles that many disabled people encounter today.”

After losing his right leg in a motorcycle accident at 19, McFall won the bronze medal in the 100-meter dash at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.

According to the ESA, the 31-year-old doctor will assist engineers in designing the necessary hardware modifications to expand the pool of competent candidates for professional spaceflight.

McFall stated, “I believe the lesson I would convey to future generations is that science is for everyone and space flight would hopefully be accessible to all.”