Paralympic bronze medalist McFall becomes first disabled astronaut


John McFall represented Team GB during the 2008 Beijing Paralympics and won a bronze medal in the 100m sprint event; he was among over 22,500 candidates who applied to the ESA, a list which included more women than ever and some 200 people with disabilities

By Amar Mehta

Last Updated: 23/11/22 5:30pm

John McFall is unveiled as a member of the European Space Agency's Astronaut Class of 2022 John McFall is unveiled as a member of the European Space Agency's Astronaut Class of 2022

John McFall is unveiled as a member of the European Space Agency’s Astronaut Class of 2022

Former Paralympian John McFall will be the European Space Agency’s (ESA) first disabled astronaut.

McFall, who is from Surrey, was selected by the ESA to join its training programme and could be the first disabled person to go to space.

The 41-year-old lost his right leg in a motorcycle accident when he was 19. In 2005, he became a professional track and field athlete, going on to represent Great Britain and Northern Ireland as a Paralympic sprinter.

He represented Team GB during the 2008 Beijing Games, winning a bronze medal in the 100m sprint, and won silver medals at the International Paralympic Committee World Championships in 2006.

McFall won further silver medals during the 2007 Paralympic World Cup and won gold in the 200m sprint.

During the 2007 season, he was ranked first in the world for 200m and second for 100m.

Now, McFall could go to space and will join the training corps. According to the ESA, no major western space agency has sent a ‘para-astronaut’ into space.

He was among over 22,500 candidates who applied, a list which included more women than ever and some 200 people with disabilities.

The finalist candidates have undergone intensive screening over the past year.

The ESA specifically sought out people with physical difficulties for a first-of-its-kind effort to determine what adaptations would be necessary to accommodate them on space stations.

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