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Making Space Travel Possible for Disabled People

International space agencies are being urged to continue developing a series of requirements that would enable disabled people to travel in space alongside able-bodied astronauts.

That was some of the feedback from an international audience of disabled people at a Parastronaut Workshop at disability aviation charity Aerobility.

Dr Irene Di Giulio, Lecturer in Anatomy and Biomechanics at King's College London, (pictured above left) spoke to participants about the barriers to human space flight before the delegates worked in small groups to discuss what needed to be overcome for people like them to become astronauts in the future.

More than 50 people took part in the workshop and after discussions produced some feedback for the project on the sorts of considerations that need to be made to enable disabled space travel.

They included provision of modular space suits, consideration for the effect of zero gravity on paralysed limbs and medical equipment, an appropriate diet, customised seats on spacecraft and possible differing effectiveness of medication. Requirements before spaceflight, during spaceflight and after spaceflight were discussed.

“We feel that what has been missing in the conversation about access to space travel is the experience of people with a disability,” said Dr Di Giulio.

“We are gathering information about what needs to happen so that we can then take that to the scientific community and start thinking of solutions.”

Delegates from across the UK and throughout the world, including from the United States and Australia, took part in the workshop, which is part of the UK Space Agency and European Space Agency’s project exploring the practicalities of astronauts with physical disabilities.

“I am especially pleased that we are able to connect the disability community with the academic community to ensure that some of the really important questions are asked and answered in order to enable the disability community to travel into space like everyone else,” said Aerobility CEO Mike Miller-Smith (pictured above right.



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