A British athlete becomes the first astronaut of people of determination

24 November, 2022
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A British athlete becomes the first astronaut of people of determination

Britain's John McFall may make history as the first person of determination to go into space after being selected by the European Space Agency as one of 17 astronauts to take part in future missions, which could include going to the moon.

The 41-year-old runner lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident in Thailand when he was 19 years old, and he did not give up his passion for running, and he succeeded in the 2008 Beijing Olympics for People of Determination and won the biggest award in his career with the bronze medal in the 200 meters.


One of McFall's best adventures was that he chose to return to the UK from China via the Trans-Siberian Railway and through Mongolia, Russia and Ukraine before entering Central Europe. He later retired to focus on the medical profession. In 2014, he obtained his Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery at Cardiff University Medical School. He also became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 2016 and is currently a Registrar of Traumatology and Orthopedics working in the south of England.


McFaul has now been selected to participate in the Parastronaut project, and could eventually become the first-ever astronaut with a disability.


"When ESA announced that they were looking for a candidate with a physical disability, I thought it was an inspiring and exhilarating opportunity, and I looked at the specifications and said, 'This is a really ambitious, very bold and brave thing to do, and thanks to my extensive scientific background,'" McFall said in press statements after announcing his selection. I felt like I might get that chance." Applicants for this opportunity can be those who have deficiencies in their lower limbs, whether from amputation or congenital defects.


They could be people as short as 1.3 meters (4.3 feet) or those with different leg lengths, while the educational and psychological requirements for candidates remained the same as for any other astronaut.


McFaul was one of 257 physically challenged applicants who will now participate in exercises, as part of a feasibility study to see what needs to be adapted and redesigned to go into space.


It could take several years though, as British astronaut Tim Peake trained with the European Space Agency in 2009 before going into space in 2016.


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