esa introduces new astronauts


Paris. John McFall was 19 years old when he was involved in a motorcycle accident and lost his right leg. He then became a professional track and field athlete, representing Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the Beijing Paralympics, winning bronze. And soon it will probably fly into space.

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John McFall is the first ESA astronaut with a physical disability.

John McFall is the first ESA astronaut with a physical disability.

McFall is Europe’s first “para-astronaut”, meaning the first astronaut with a physical disability. The European Space Agency, Esa, has chosen him for its new class of astronauts.

“As an amputee, I never thought I could be an astronaut,” said McFall, a trauma and orthopedic surgeon. This is the first time since 2008 that ESA has again promoted astronauts and then people with physical disabilities. A first.

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McFall is involved in the Parastronaut Fly!

“We didn’t set out to go into space, so we’re all handicapped when it comes to space travel,” said ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who just returned from an ISS mission last month. “What transforms us from disabled to space-fit is technology.”

A total of 257 persons with physical disabilities applied to Esa. Only McFall survived the tough selection process. He will now be part of the Parastronaut Fly! Feasibility Project, with which the space agency wants to explore what it takes to make space travel possible for “paranauts” and “parastronauts” in the future.

Only 17 candidates make it to the selection process

It is said that the selection process lasted until the end of November this year. The space agency had to review more than 22,500 applications. After all, the best applicants had to pass practical, medical and psychological tests.

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In the end, only 17 applicants successfully passed all stages. Esa has selected McFall as a “Parastronaut,” along with five professional astronauts who will begin a year’s basic training at the European Astronaut Center in Cologne next year.

The rest will be used as reserve astronauts, including two Germans, Amelie Schoenenwald and Nicola Winter. You are not directly connected to Esa, but you can be selected for certain projects and even have the chance to become a professional astronaut. “They are also astronauts,” ESA Director General Joseph Aschbacher made clear in a statement in Paris.

New professional astronauts

Sophie Adenot, born in 1982, from France

Installed Explorer's Curiosity: Sophie Adenot.

Installed Explorer’s Curiosity: Sophie Adenot.

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She has been awarded the French National Order of Merit and the Medal of the French National Assembly as an inspirational ambassador for science for gender equality. Spaceflight must now be added to the list of successes. “I’ve always had this explorer curiosity,” she says. “I wanted to discover and learn new things.

This also explains the French woman’s multifaceted CV: she studied engineering, specializing in spaceships and aircraft, then joined the French Air Force and trained as a helicopter pilot. She participated in several search and rescue operations. “Of course, this is all completely new to me,” she says, referring to her future career as a professional astronaut. “However, I am fully committed to pursuing all missions, contributing and sharing everything I have learned with others.

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Rosemary Coogan, born 1991, from Great Britain

Always interested in space: Rosemary Coogan.

Always interested in space: Rosemary Coogan.

She is the youngest of Esa’s new professional astronauts. At just 31, Rosemary Coogan is dying to go into space. A place she says has always fascinated her. She studied physics and astronomy and studies how galaxies evolve over time.

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“I signed up for the space program…

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