people with disabilities in space
ESA wants to introduce parastronauts for the first time
11/23/2022 1:47 PM
In Paris, the European space agency ESA wants to announce the future astronauts. For the first time, people with a physical disability are trained to become so-called parastronauts. However, the new generation is not allowed to fly to the moon for the time being.
Which Europeans will fly into space next? The European Space Agency (ESA) wants to present the next generation of astronauts in Paris. These are four to six future astronauts selected from some 22,000 applicants. They succeed the current generation, including the German Matthias Maurer. The future astronauts will initially be trained at the German Aerospace Center in Cologne.
They are primarily intended for stays on the International Space Station. If there is a manned flight to the moon, the already experienced astronauts of the previous generation will be deployed. For the first time, ESA also wants to present one or more ‘parastronauts’: people with a physical disability who need to be prepared for a flight to space. For this purpose, the ESA has changed its previously extremely strict criteria and admitted candidates who are missing a leg or whose legs have deformities.
The budget for 2023 to 2025 must also be approved at an ESA ministerial meeting. The representatives of the 22 member states must approve the space agency’s budget of more than 18 billion euros for 2023 to 2025, a quarter more than in the past three years. Of this, €3 billion is earmarked for monitoring the effects of climate change and €3.3 billion for transport to space, in particular for the Ariane 6 launch vehicle. The ESA also estimates €3 billion for space exploration by robots and astronauts.
Competition between Europe, the US and China
Minister of Economic Affairs Robert Habeck participates on behalf of Germany and calls for more sustainability in space and more European sovereignty. In space, Europe is increasingly competing with the US, China and private investors, such as Elon Musk’s American company SpaceX. The launch of Ariane 6, originally scheduled for 2020, was recently postponed to 2023. “We must continue with the commercialization of space travel,” said ESA Chief Josef Aschbacher at the start of the ministerial meeting.
Germany, France and Italy reiterated that investments in the Ariane 6 and Vega-C launchers should take commercial risks into account. They proposed changing the rules to ensure that countries that invest heavily would benefit their domestic industries. At the same time, they gave the go-ahead for the deployment of so-called microlaunchers, which will also have to fly into space on behalf of ESA in the future. The three countries are competing to develop rockets that can launch smaller payloads into space.