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HomeNewsBritain's John McFall becomes world's first ‘Parastronaut’

Britain’s John McFall becomes world’s first ‘Parastronaut’

Taking a step ahead to open avenues of space travelling for people with disability, the European Space Agency appointed British Paralympic sprinter, John McFall, as the world’s first ‘Parastronaut’ on Wednesday.

The British Paralympic sprinter will participate in a feasibility study conducted by the 22-nation European Space Agency, reported Reuters. The study will be conducted as a part of an astronaut training program to understand the condition needed for people with disabilities to take part in future missions.

Notably, around 257 people applied for the role of an astronaut with a disability. The appointment has been made in light of the selection of a new set of astronauts by the ESA for the first time since 2009. Since then, the space agency has turned down 22,500 valid applications due to their physical limitations.

In addition to John McFall, the space agency also named five new astronaut recruits as a part of its first recruitment drive to bring diversity in space travel. The other five addition includes two women. The recruits are chosen out of 22,000 people who applied for the posts.

For the astronaut posts, people from more than 25 member nations applied. However, most of the applications came from traditional heavyweights like France, Germany, Britain, and Italy.

Last year, ESA posted openings for people who are fully fit and able to pass the stringent psychological, cognitive, and other tests, but are unable to become an astronaut because of their disability.

The ESA study involving the participation of McFall will help the ESA engineers to figure out the changes that are needed in the hardware to provide more opportunities to a wider range of deserving candidates for professional spaceflight, reported the news agency.

ESA’s effort to bring inclusivity in the field of space travelling has been applauded by NASA as well. “We at NASA are watching ESA’s para-astronaut selection process with great interest.”, Dan Huot, a spokesman for NASA’s Johnson Space Center, told AP. He also added that the agency is interested in working with new astronaut recruits in the future from partners such as the ESA.

(With agency inputs)

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