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Who is John McFall, the physically disabled surgeon in ESA’s class of 2022 astronauts?

The European Space Agency named the first ever astronaut with physical disability in a major step towards allowing people with physical disabilities to work and live in space. European Space Agency picked. John McFall, former British Paralympic sprinter to be part of a study to assess conditions needed for people with disabilities to be part of future missions.

Who is John McFall the physically disabled surgeon in ESA class of 2022 astronauts gcw
First Published Nov 24, 2022, 3:56 PM IST

The first astronaut with a physical disability is among the newest group of astronauts announced by the European Space Agency in an effort to increase diversity in space exploration. The news is being hailed as a significant step toward the continent's ground-breaking goal of sending a person with a physical impairment into space.

John McFall, a 41-year-old Briton, will be the first astronaut to travel to space. He was 19 when he lost his right leg, and he later participated in the Paralympics. In the final lineup, which was announced at a news conference in Paris, he joins five career astronauts.

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The statement was made following the end of the organization's first hiring campaign in more than ten years with the goal of increasing diversity in space flight. Two women are also on the list: Rosemary Coogan of the United Kingdom and Sophie Adenot of France.

In an interview published on the ESA website, McFall said, "It's been quite a whirlwind experience given that as an amputee, I'd never thought that being an astronaut was a possibility, so excitement was a huge emotion." McFall, who had his right leg amputated at the age of 19 due to a motorbike accident, went on to take home the bronze medal in the 100-meter race at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing. During his medical studies, John worked as a nursing assistant at the Marie Curie Hospice in Cardiff, UK, from 2009 to 2011. 

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McFall will now take part in an innovative feasibility study looking at how physical limitations may affect space flight. For the first time, a space agency is concentrating on investigating this novel area of space research. According to the ESA, it's new territory because no significant Western space organisation has ever launched a parastronaut into orbit.

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