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Space diversity: Europe's space agency gets 1st parastronaut

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tech.hindustantimes.com

The European Space Agency made history Wednesday by selecting an amputee who lost his leg in a motorcycle accident to be among its newest batch of astronauts — a leap toward its pioneering ambition to send someone with a physical disability into space.John McFall, a 41-year-old Briton who lost his right leg when he was 19 and went on to compete in the Paralympics, called his selection at Europe's answer to NASA “a real turning point and mark in history.”“ESA has a commitment to send an astronaut with a physical disability into space ...

This is the first time that a space agency has endeavored to embark on a project like this. And it sends a really, really strong message to humanity,” he said.The newly-minted parastronaut joins five career astronauts in the final selection unveiled during a Paris news conference — the conclusion of the agency's first recruitment drive in over a decade aimed at bringing diversity to space travel.The list also included two women: France's Sophie Adenot and the UK's Rosemary Coogan, new ambassadors for another greatly underrepresented section for European astronauts.

A small minority of those who have explored space have been women, and most of those were Americans.Wednesday's list did not, however, include any persons of color.

The hiring campaign didn't specifically address ethnic diversity, but at the time stressed the importance of “representing all parts of our society.”McFall will follow a different path than his fellow astronauts because he will participate in a groundbreaking feasibility study exploring whether physical disability will impair space travel.

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