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European Space Agency: John McFall, leg amputee, becomes the world's first "parastronaut"


For the first time in the history of the conquest of space, the European Space Agency (ESA) will give the possibility to people h

He already has an Olympic bronze medal around his neck, snatched during the Beijing Olympics in 2008. John McFall has once again confirmed that his handicap is not a barrier.

This Englishman, amputated with a leg, became this Wednesday the first astronaut with a disability in the world, announced the European Space Agency (ESA) during the presentation of the new promotion of astronauts who succeed that of 2009 , of which Thomas Pesquet is a member.

Until now, people with physical disabilities were excluded from the selections to become an astronaut, reputed to be among the harshest.

"Applying for this program was not really on my radar because of the necessary medical examinations," said the 41-year-old Briton after his appointment.

“It is a message for humanity”

But for the first time in the conquest of space, during the launch of its recruitment campaign in February 2021, the European Agency announced that it would open the doors of space to one or more candidates with a disability in the lower limbs. (due to amputation or birth defect).

Also eligible were people measuring less than 1.30 m or with leg asymmetry.

The intellectual and psychological skills required were the same as for other astronauts.

“This is the first time that a disabled person has been selected.

It's a message for humanity: we can do it, "said this doctor by training, amputated following a motorcycle accident at the age of 19.

We don't know when it will be able to fly away

During the next few months, he will have to work to "improve our understanding and overcome the obstacles presented by spaceflight for astronauts with a physical disability", indicates the European Space Agency, which has baptized this unprecedented project "parastronaut".

In the extremely precise universe of space travel, even small modifications can become extremely complicated and expensive.

Existing systems are, for example, designed for people of a certain size.

Read alsoThomas Pesquet: “Several French astronauts, that gives more flexibility”

John McFall will therefore have to raise several unknowns.

“They say that everyone in space is disabled.

When you look into the details, you use your legs in a different way in space.

But we don't know if being amputated is an advantage or a disadvantage, says the Englishman.

Should I wear a prosthesis or not?

Will gravity have a different effect on an amputated limb?

That's the whole idea of ​​my engagement and the ones we're going to work on."

Another question for the moment without a precise answer, when will it be able to fly away?

It will be necessary to be patient according to the ESA, which evokes “ten years” before a departure in orbit.

Source: leparis

All tech articles on 2022-11-23

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