A Briton will be the European Space Agency’s first disabled astronaut.John McFall, from Frimley in Surrey, was selected by the ESA to join its training programme and could be the first disabled person to go into space.
The 41-year-old lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident when he was 19 and went on to compete for Great Britain at the Paralympic Games.No major Western space agency has ever put a “para-astronaut” into space, according to the ESA.Mr McFall will join the space training corps to see if he can be the first disabled person to go into space.
British astronomer Rosemary Coogan has also been named as a member of the new cohort.Ms Coogan has two master’s degrees from the University of Durham and a doctorate in astronomy from the University of Sussex.
Mr McFall and Ms Coogan were among over 22,500 candidates who applied, a list which included more women than ever and some 200 people with disabilities.The finalist candidates have undergone intensive screening over the past year.
The ESA specifically sought out people with physical difficulties for a first-of-its-kind effort to determine what adaptations would be necessary to accommodate them on space stations.