Dec 13, 2022

Can people with disabilities be astronauts? ESA shows encouraging signs of progress

Posted by in category: space

“ESA is ready to invest in defining the necessary adaptations of space hardware in an effort to enable these otherwise excellently qualified professionals to serve as professional crew members on a safe and useful space mission,” said the agency in a press release in February 2021, when it first issued the call for people with disabilities to apply for what ESA calls the “Parastronaut Feasibility Project.”

McFall’s selection is a huge step forward, but it’s not happening in a vacuum.

On December 14, twelve people with different disabilities will take off on a zero-gravity flight with AstroAccess, aboard Zero Gravity Corporation’s “G-Force One.” They’ll perform experiments to help answer some key questions for astronauts with disabilities — things like how quickly a person with mobility issues can get in and out of a flight seat in microgravity, how a blind person can use textured handholds to orient themselves and navigate the cabin without gravity, and whether sign language is understandable when one person is floating upside down.

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