A Briton becomes the European Space Agency’s first disabled astronaut.
John McFall, from Frimley in Surrey, was selected by the ESA to participate in his training program 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 and Northern Ireland in the Paralympic Games.
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According to the ESA, no major Western space agency has ever sent a “para-astronaut” into space.
Mr. McFall will join the space training corps to see if he can be the first disabled person to go into space.
He said the opportunity was “inspiring and exciting”.
He added: “With my broad scientific background and wide range of experiences, I felt compelled to try to help ESA answer this question: can we get someone with a physical disability to do meaningful work in 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 PhD in astronomy from the University of Sussex.
She is one of six career astronauts to join ESA as permanent staff.
Career astronauts also include France’s Sophie Adenot, Spain’s Pablo Alvarez Fernandez, Belgium’s Raphael Liegeois, and Switzerland’s Marco Sieber.
Meganne Christian, who was born in the UK and studied in Australia, has successfully completed the astronaut selection process and will become a member of the ESA Astronaut Reserve.
The reserve team consists of candidates who have been successful throughout the selection process and have not been hired.
More than 22,500 candidates applied
They were among more than 22,500 candidates who applied, a list that included more women than ever and some 200 people with disabilities.
About 1,361 were invited to phase two of ESA’s selection of astronauts after an extensive screening phase. The pool was narrowed to just over 400 candidates during phase three.
During ESA’s last call for astronauts in 2008, 8,413 provided a medical certificate and completed their online application.
Among them was Tim Peake, who became the first British astronaut to join the ESA Corps.
The finalists have undergone intensive screening over the past year.
‘Space has an incredible power to inspire’
Dr. Paul Bate, CEO of the UK Space Agency, said: “This is a momentous day for the UK Space Agency, our space industry and the country as a whole.
“Through our investment in the European Space Agency, the UK is playing a leading role in space exploration, working with international partners to use the unique vantage point of space to benefit life on Earth.”
“Space has an incredible power to inspire and I am sure Rosemary, John and Meganne will become heroes to many young people and inspire them to shoot for the stars.
“It’s also important to remember that behind every astronaut is a dedicated team of people, including in the UK, working behind the scenes to achieve the incredible.”