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Europe names the world’s first disabled astronaut

Europe names the world's first disabled astronaut
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PARIS, Nov 23 (Reuters) – The European Space Agency named the first “parastronaut” on Wednesday in a big step to allow people with physical disabilities to work and live in space.

The 22-nation agency said it had selected former British Paralympic sprinter John McFall as part of a new generation of 17 recruits chosen for astronaut training.

You will participate in a feasibility study designed to allow ESA to assess the conditions necessary for people with disabilities to participate in future missions.

“It’s been quite a dizzying experience, as as an amputee I never thought being an astronaut was a possibility, so the excitement was great excitement,” McFall said in an interview posted on the ESA website.

She will join five new career astronauts and 11 reserve trainees after ESA replenished its astronaut ranks for the first time since 2009.

The ESA posted openings last year for people fully capable of passing its stringent psychological, cognitive and other tests who are only prevented from becoming astronauts due to limitations of existing hardware due to their disability.

He received 257 applications for the position of astronaut with a disability, a parallel position he calls a “parastronaut.”

Disability equality charity Scope described their selection as “a big step forward”.

“Better representation of disabled people in influential roles will really help improve attitudes and break down the barriers many disabled people face today,” said the charity’s communications director, Alison Kerry.

Following a motorcycle accident that led to the amputation of his right leg at the age of 19, McFall won the 100m bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

The 31-year-old doctor will help ESA engineers design the hardware changes needed to open up professional spaceflight to a broader pool of qualified candidates, the agency said.

“I think the message I would give to future generations is that science is for everyone and space travel can be for everyone,” McFall said.

Reporting by Tim Hepher and Yiming Woo; Additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan in London; Edited by Nick Macfie, William Maclean

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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