- Three Britons named in European Space Agency’s 2022 class of astronauts
- Paralympic medalist and amputee John McFall is ESA’s first ‘paraastronaut’
- People with physical disabilities were previously excluded from space flight
- Rosemary Coogan Selected as Career Astronaut and Megan Christian in Reserve
- The 17 chosen were narrowed down from among 22,523 applicants.
Three Britons – including the world’s first ‘paraastronaut’ – are among the European Space Agency’s first new crew of astronauts in nearly 15 years.
John McFall, Rosemary Coogan and Megan Christian are among a range of 17 men and women selected from 22,523 applicants.
They will be hoping to follow in the footsteps of current British astronaut Tim Peake, who spent six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS) in 2016.
Mr McFall said he hopes to inspire others and show that ‘space is for everyone’ after Named as world’s first disabled astronaut
The father of three had to have his right leg amputated after a motorbike accident at the age of 19.
He learned to run again in 2005 and became a professional track and field athlete, before winning a bronze medal for Team GB in the 100 meters at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games.
ESA’s announcement does not mean Mr McFall is guaranteed to go into orbit – he will be part of a feasibility program to see what the requirements would be for that.
But Ms Coogan, born in Northern Ireland, is one of five ‘career’ astronauts who are guaranteed flights when they arrive in training.
She became Britain’s third astronaut after Peake and Helen Sharman.
Her selection, along with Frenchwoman Sophie Adenot, also means that Samantha Cristoforetti is no longer ESA’s only female astronaut.
Six more women, including Ms Christian, were selected as one of 11 astronauts who will continue their normal jobs and will not enter straight into astronaut training, although they may be called up at a later date.
Ms Coogan said she was ‘incredibly excited’ to be selected and potentially have the opportunity to go to the ISS or the Moon.
Shooting for the stars: Three Britons are in the European Space Agency’s first new crew of astronauts in almost 15 years – including the first ‘paraastronauts’. John McFall (pictured), Rosemary Coogan and Megan Christian are named to the Class of 17
The father of three had to have his right leg amputated after a motorbike accident at the age of 19. He learned to run again and won a bronze medal for Team GB in the 100m at the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008 (pictured)
John McFall, Rosemary Coogan (pictured left) and Megan Christian (right) were chosen from 22,523 applicants
British optimists follow in the footsteps of Helen Sharman and Tim Peake – the first British ESA-astronauts
Who formed ESA’s new group of astronauts?
- Rosemary Coogan – UK
- Sophie Adenot – France
- Pablo Alvarez Fernandez – Spain
- Raphael Ligeois – Belgium
- Marco Sieber – Switzerland
- Megan Christian – UK
- Nikola Winter – Germany
- Marcus Vant – Sweden
- Anthea Comellini – Italy
- Sara Garcia Alonso – Spain
- Andrea Patasa – Italy
- Carmen Posnig – Austria
- Arnaud Prost – France
- Amelie Schoenenwald – Germany
- Ales Svoboda – Czech Republic
- Slawoz Uznanski – Poland
astronaut with physical disabilities
- John McFall – UK
Mr McFall has a background in sport and exercise science and completed his undergraduate degree at Swansea University.
He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 2016 and is currently a Specialist Trauma and Orthopedic Registrar working in the South of England.
The 41-year-old said: ‘When the advert for an astronaut with a physical disability came up I read the specifications of the person and what it was and I thought, wow, this is such a huge interesting opportunity.
‘I thought I would be a very good candidate to help ESA answer the question they were asking; Can we send a person with a physical disability to space?’
As a teenager, he had dreams of joining the military, however those dreams were dashed when he had a motorcycle accident while traveling in Koh Samui, Thailand in 2000.
The injury to his right leg was so severe that doctors were forced to amputate it.
‘I returned to Britain with five reduced toes, and a piece of my right tibia and fibula in a jar of formalin. Quite a souvenir!’ he told British Orthopedic Association (BOA).
People with physical disabilities have previously been excluded from one of the most specialized and demanding jobs on Earth – and beyond – due to strict selection requirements.
But after conducting a feasibility study, the ESA said potential candidates could include people who have deficiencies in their lower limbs, whether from amputations or congenital defects.
Mr McFall is married and has three young children aged nine, eight and five.
Early last year he saw an ESA advert saying the agency was looking for a candidate with a disability, and said he felt ‘compelled to apply’.
“I was incredibly excited and proud of myself that I got through the selection process,” said Mr McFall.
‘As a disabled person I never thought that being an astronaut was a possibility.
‘Being the first group of astronauts with a physical disability, we not only got to go through astronaut training, but we got to go through astronaut training and find out what it is about the physical disability that makes it intriguing and removes those barriers. ,
‘I am extremely excited about using the skills I have to solve problems, identify issues and overcome barriers that allow people with a physical disability to perform the same tasks as their able-bodied counterparts .
‘I think the message I’ll be giving to future generations is that science…
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