Introducing the world's first 'parastronaut'

STORY: John McFall has been named the world’s first 'parastronaut'.

He’s a British Paralympic sprinter and doctor who lost his leg in a biking accident when he was 19.

Now, he's part of a new generation of recruits picked by the European Space Agency (ESA) for astronaut training.

“I felt compelled to try and help ESA answer this question: Can we get someone with a physical disability to do meaningful work in space?"

The ESA posted openings last year for the role of astronaut with a disability - and received 257 applications.

Candidates were to be fully capable of passing its usual stringent psychological, cognitive tests - and only prevented from becoming astronauts due to the constraints of existing hardware in light of their disability.

David Parker is the ESA's Director of Human and Robotic Exploration.

“...of course to be an astronaut is a very exclusive thing to be, but having a disability shouldn't rule you out, and that was really part of this very special project that we launched in this process."

McFall will take part in a feasibility study with the ESA to determine the changes in hardware needed for people with disabilities to take part in future missions.

"I think the message that I would give to future generations is that science is for everyone and space travel hopefully can be for everyone."