Beijing Paralympic bronze medalist may become the world’s first “disabled astronaut”

John McFall

On November 23 local time, the European Space Agency (ESA) announced that former British Paralympic sprinter John McFall (John McFall) was selected as its next generation astronaut candidate. For the first time, disabled people were included in its reserve astronaut list, taking the first step in sending “disabled astronauts” into space.

According to the “New York Times” report on November 24, this 2022 European Space Agency astronaut training course project is the agency’s first recruitment activity in more than a decade, aiming to increase the diversity of its astronaut team Women and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

McFaur lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident at the age of 19, according to reports. He then relearned running and won a bronze medal in the 100m at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. In this recruitment, McFall stood out from 22,500 applicants and became one of 17 candidates.

According to ” The Washington Post reported on November 24 that candidates will go to the European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany, to receive a one-year basic training in space-related technology, science and medical treatment, and then enter the next stage of space station training to learn how to operate the space station and Transportation Equipment.

It is reported that McFaul will participate in the European Space Agency’s “Disability Astronaut Feasibility Project”. The agency said in a statement that the program aims to “make possible the inclusion of people with disabilities in human spaceflight and space missions.” While there is no guarantee that McFaul will be sent into space, the agency says it will do “everything possible” to make it happen.

For a long time, the European Space Agency has used the term “handicapped astronaut” to refer to “a person who has reached the level of astronauts in terms of psychological, cognitive, technical and professional abilities, but has difficulty operating the current space hardware due to physical defects.” facilities, people who cannot become astronauts.

The European Space Agency said that following McFall’s participation in the program, it will determine what is necessary to send disabled astronauts into space through technical studies, space simulations, simulated missions and dialogue with the agency’s international space partners. condition.

In this regard, McFaul said, “As an amputee, I never thought I could become an astronaut. I am very happy to use my skills to identify problems, solve problems, and overcome obstacles. To enable disabled people to work on an equal footing with able-bodied people.”

At the same time, McFaul wanted to provide solutions to the practical problems that disabled astronauts face in space: “In microgravity, what happens to people with lower limb amputations? What happens to their stumps? “

In addition, the list of 17 candidates selected by the European Space Agency this time also includes two women to change the underrepresentation of female astronauts. In September, the agency announced that Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti (Samantha Cristoforetti) has officially become the first European female astronaut to serve as the commander of the International Space Station. It’s been 15 years since becoming the first female commander of the International Space Station.

(The Paper)