Meet the World’s First ‘Parastronaut’

Space could soon be open to all.

Dec 15, 2022


Inclusiion, Space
Meet the World’s First ‘Parastronaut’ | Space could soon be open to all.

Space travel is becoming a lot more diversified. The space agencies have astronauts from different countries and ethnicities living and working together on the International Space Station. Now, the world’s first disabled astronaut – the “parastronaut” – has joined the exclusive club and may soon go into space.

The European Space Agency (ESA) – made up of 22 nations –  announced in November 2022, that it selected British Paralympic sprinter John McFall as part of its 17 new recruits that will be trained as astronauts, reported Reuters. He will take part in a feasibility project to see if people with disabilities can live and work in space.

The ESA posted openings in 2021 for new astronauts who were capable of passing very stringent cognitive, psychological, and other tests to see if they were the right fit. People with disabilities were never considered before because of the constraints of the existing space living conditions. Until now.

About John McFall
McFall (41), a UK athlete and sprinter, lost his leg in a motorcycle accident when he was 19, and had to learn how to walk and run again, according to The New York Times. He persevered and went to the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games, winning a bronze medal in the 100-meter race.

But he wanted to do much more, becoming an orthopedic surgeon in 2014, and now he has set his sights even higher. In a Youtube interview released by the ESA, McFall said that his selection was a whirlwind experience. “As an amputee, I never thought that being an astronaut was a possibility.”

Opening up space for all
McFall has to complete the 12-month feasibility project that will access how physical disabilities  could affect space travel, according to NYT. Once the study clears him, McFall will be able to join a space mission.

“We’ve got to undergo astronaut training and work out what it is about having a physical disability that makes it tricky and overcome those hurdles, so it adds an additional layer of complexity,” McFall said in the ESA interview.

If McFall is able to fulfill his dream to reach the stars, he will be doing it not just for himself but for all people with disabilities. “I can bring inspiration,” he said; “Inspiration that science is for everyone [and that] potentially space is for everyone.”

7 Useful Items That Came From Space Tech
NASA is Landing the First Woman on the Moon
Meet the Inspiring Astronauts That Have Made History

Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.