For the first time in 13 years, the European Space Agency (ESA) has announced a new class of astronauts in training, including the world’s first “parastronaut”.
The third generation of European astronauts includes five career astronauts, 11 astronaut reserve members and one disabled astronaut, who will participate in a feasibility project to include disabled astronauts in manned spaceflight and possible future missions. The 17 were chosen from more than 22,500 candidates from across Europe.
“This class of ESA astronauts is bringing ambition, talent and diversity in many different ways – to drive our efforts and our future,” said ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher in a press release, referring to the “ continued exploration in low Earth orbit on the International Space Station, advancing to the Moon – and beyond.”
Five new recruits, three men and two women, will begin 12 months of basic training at the European Astronaut Center in Cologne, Germany, to enable them to reach the standard specified by the International Space Station’s partners, the space agency said. The candidates are Sophie Adenot, Pablo Álvarez Fernández, Rosemary Coogan, Raphaël Liégeois and John McFall 🇧🇷
It is the first time that the space agency creates a reserve of astronauts, made up of candidates who went through the selection process, but were not recruited. Reserve astronauts remain with their current employers and will be assigned a consulting contract.
McFall, a British physician and Paralympian, said he felt compelled to apply when he saw the ESA’s advertisement for an astronaut with a physical disability. His right leg was amputated after a motorcycle accident when he was 19.
“I thought, ‘Wow, this is such a great and exciting opportunity,’” McFall said in a video posted on the ESA website. “I thought I would be a really good candidate to help the ESA answer the question they were asking: ‘ Can we take a disabled person into space?’”
ESA’s call for candidates with physical disabilities was open to people with disabilities in the lower limbs or considered to be of short stature — less than 130 centimeters.
The space agency was closely involved with NASA’s Artemis mission to put humans back on the Moon, and the ESA hopes that the first European to walk on the Moon will be among that class of astronauts.
The space agency also agreed on Wednesday (23) to a new budget of 16.9 billion euros ($17.5 billion) for the next three years – a 17% increase from 2019.
Source: CNN Brasil
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