John McFall FRCS (Ortho)
Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgeon, European Space Agency
Following a traumatic amputation of my right leg at the age of 19, sport was instrumental in my rehabilitation – both physically and emotionally. Having always been a keen and capable athlete I began running again, this time as an amputee. I was lucky enough to compete as a Paralympic sprinter, with winning a bronze medal in the 100m at the Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games being the highlight of my career. My time as an elite athlete gave me a confidence that I really could achieve if I put the effort in.
With this confidence and an enduring passion for science and learning, I applied to medical school to train as a doctor at the age of 28. I graduated from Cardiff Medical School in 2014 and I knew at an early stage I wanted to be a surgeon. I became a Member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 2016, going on to train as a Trauma & Orthopaedic surgeon in the south of England. I then became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (FRCS) in 2023.
In 2021, the European Space Agency were recruiting for a new class of Astronauts and, for the first time in history, the vacancy notice was extended to individuals with a physical disability. With my love of adventure and challenge, and my boundless curiosity, I applied.
In November 2022 I was the first person in the world with a physical disability to be recruited to a space agency. Following an initial feasibility study taking place at the European Astronaut Centre in Cologne, Germany, I hope to be the first person with a physical disability to train for and undertake a long duration mission in space as a fully qualified Astronaut.
“Always go the extra mile….life will reward you!”
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