One-legged doctor becomes world’s first disabled astronaut

John McFall lost his right leg after an accident in 2019. He is now a doctor, an athlete, and will also be named a parastronaut .


The European Space Agency ( ESA ) has selected its first astronaut with a disability: John McFall .

The new recruit will be the first to remain in the program that will develop the first travelers to space with a disability: he does not have a leg.


ESA chose McFall out of 257 entries to be considered “the world’s first parastronaut . ”

Starting next fall, English will enter a 12-month training center at the European Astronaut Center in Germany.

“I’ve always been interested in science in general, and space exploration has always been on my radar,” he says. “But having been in a motorcycle accident when I was 19 years old was a contraindication to doing it.”

The disabled man has managed to recover, since after the amputation he ran again and even won a bronze medal in the 100-meter dash at the 2008 Olympic Games.

In addition, he has obtained medical degrees: he currently works as a specialist in traumatology and orthopedics in his native country.

open to all

ESA has received a total of 22,500 applications for the astronaut corps after launching a call after 11 years . 24% of these applications correspond to women, a participation rate that exceeds the 15% registered in the last process.

“In early 2021, when the advert for an astronaut with a physical disability came out,” McFall said, “I read the specifications of the person and what was involved, and I thought, ‘Wow, this is such a great and interesting opportunity.’ And I thought he would be a very good candidate to help ESA answer the question they were asking: ‘Can we get someone with a physical disability into space?’ And I felt compelled to apply.”