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Europe names world’s first disabled astronaut

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PARIS (Reuters) – The European Space Agency on Wednesday named its first “airborne astronauts” in a major step towards enabling people with disabilities to work and live in space.

Agencies in 22 countries said they have selected former British Paralympic sprinter John McFaul as part of a new generation of 17 recruits selected for astronaut training.

He will participate in a feasibility study designed to help ESA assess the conditions necessary for the participation of people with disabilities in future missions.

“It was a very dizzying experience because I never thought I could be an astronaut because I had a limb amputation,” McFaul said in an interview published on the ESA website. rice field.

He will participate in the training of five new career astronauts and 11 reserve astronauts after ESA replenishes its astronaut ranks for the first time since 2009.

The ESA last year identified people who could perfectly pass the usual rigorous psychological, cognitive, and other tests who were only prevented from becoming astronauts because of existing hardware limitations in light of their disability. I posted a job.

It received 257 applications for the role of disabled astronaut, a parallel role called “airborne astronaut.”

The disability equality charity Scope described his choice as a “huge leap.”

“Better representation of people with disabilities in influential roles can really help improve attitudes and break down the barriers that many people with disabilities face today,” said the charity’s communications director. Allison Kelly said

After amputating his right leg in a motorcycle accident at the age of 19, McFaul won the bronze medal in the 100m at the 2008 Beijing Paralympics.

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

“My message to future generations is that science is for everyone and space travel is for everyone,” McFaul said.

Reporting by Tim Hepher and Yiming Woo, with additional reporting by Kylie MacLellan, London.Editing: Nick McPhee, William McLean

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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