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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Disability Power 100 2023 profile information has been self-submitted by the profile subject. Shaw Trust understands and respects that disability and impairment descriptors and language use varies from person to person. Shaw Trust assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors or discrepancies in the content of this, or any other, profile page.

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