Former Paralympian to become first disabled astronaut
A former paralympian is set to become the first disabled astronaut to go into space after being signed up by the European Space Agency.
John McFall, from Frimley, Surrey, lost his right leg in a serious motorcycle accident at the age of 19.
His disability inspired McFall to compete for Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the Paralympic Games. In 2007 he was ranked champion for the 200 metres, and second for the 100 metres.
But McFall is about to cover a much longer distance which he did on the track after he was selected to join a training programme to potentially become the first “para-astronaut” in space.
The 41-year-old will undergo a tough and thorough training routine to decide if he can become the agency’s first disabled astronaut.
McFall said: "With my broad scientific background and a vast range of experiences, I felt compelled to try and help ESA answer this question: Can we get someone with a physical disability to do meaningful work in space?"
British astronomer Rosemary Coogan and Meganne Christian (who was born in the UK and studied in Australia) are among the six astronauts to join the ESA workforce.
Dr Paul Bate, chief executive of the UK Space Agency, said: “This is a momentous day for the UK Space Agency, our space sector and the country as a whole.
“Through our investment in the European Space Agency, the UK is playing a leading role in space exploration and collaborating 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 for many young people and inspire them to shoot for the stars.
“It’s also important to remember that, behind every astronaut, there is a dedicated team of people, including in the UK, working behind the scenes to achieve the incredible.”
A full NASA space suit costs $12,000,000.