(CTN NEWS) – ESA released its newest recruits on Wednesday: two women, three men, and the world’s first astronaut.
According to the ESA, no major Western agency has ever sent a “per astronaut” into space.
In the new class, there are “astronauts with physical disabilities” who “will begin a 12-month basic training program in spring 2023 at ESA’s European Astronaut Center.”
During astronaut training, the ESA appointed British Paralympic sprinter John McFall to participate in a feasibility study.
McFall said in a blog post on the ESA’s website, “it’s been quite a whirlwind experience, given that I never thought being an astronaut was possible as an amputee.”
While McFall’s recruitment is a first, he still has a long way to go before being part of a space mission.
According to the 22-nation agency, he will assess the conditions required for people with disabilities to participate in future missions.
McFall worked as a trauma and orthopedic specialist in the south of England. The accident that caused him to lose his leg led to amputation.
He represented Britain as a sprinter at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing.
Astronauts Of A New Class
From more than 22,000 applicants, five career astronauts were selected. The program received more applications than ever before from women.
France’s Sophie Adenot and Britain’s Rosemary Coogan were selected from the applicants. Are not, 40, is a helicopter test pilot with around 3,000 hours of experience, while Coogan, 31, is an astronomy doctorate graduate.
It was ESA’s first recruitment drive in over a decade, aimed at diversifying the space industry.
An Increase In Budget
Although the initial target was 18%, the ESA announced an increase of 17% compared to the previous budget.
According to Director General Josef Aschbacher, the 22 member states of the ESA will contribute a total of €16.9 billion ($17.5 billion) to the agency.
The German government will boost ESA’s budget by €4 billion. The budget will cover programs to explore the Moon and Mars.
Until 2030, the ESA will continue participating in the International Space Station (ISS).
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