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Space Agency are looking for disabled astronauts

An astronaut in space
An astronaut in space Image credit: scientificamerican.com

If you think having a disability would stop someone going into space, think again! The European Space Agency is looking for disabled astronauts.

Taking advice from the International Paralympic Committee, the ESA are taking applications in March for budding Neil Armstrongs, albeit those who can park in accessible bays!

The new role, which we guess won’t find on job agency websites, is not specifically open for just people with disabilities but the aim to make the inclusive process to be open to anybody.

Dr David Parker is the director of Esa’s robotics and human spaceflight programme.

He told BBC News: "To be absolutely clear, we're not looking to hire a space tourist that happens also to have a disability.

"To be very explicit, this individual would do a meaningful space mission. So, they would need to do the science; they would need to participate in all the normal operations of the International Space Station (ISS).

"This is not about tokenism. We have to be able to justify to all the people who fund us - which is everybody, including people who happen to be disabled - that what we're doing is somehow meaningful to everybody."

People with restricted growth or lower limb deficiency are being encouraged to sign up to be the first disabled person in space, or to use the correct term, a “para-astronaut”.

Qualifications include a master’s degree (or higher) in Mathematics, Computer Sciences, Natural Sciences, Engineering, Medicine or a qualified experimental test pilot.

Before going into space successful candidates will be trained to speak different languages including Russian.

Lucy van der Tas, Esa’s head of talent acquisition, said: "They need to be fluent in English with a good knowledge of a second language. It doesn't matter what that second language is, but it must be a second language.”

The disabled candidate(s) will be put on reserve so the Esa can work with its partners to determine the most sufficient way to fly a para-astronaut.

Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti said: "We did not evolve to go to space so when it comes to space travel, we are all disabled.

What brings us from being disabled to go to space to being able to go to space is just technology. This is a feasibility study and we're going to look into what exactly is needed, how much it will cost - but that's the goal."

Nobody knows how many stars are in space.