The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is releasing the findings of a months-long study for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Office of the Chief Health Medical Officer entitled: “Parastronaut Feasibility Foundational Research Study”. NASA engaged the Institute to identify what it would take to fly astronauts with disabilities safely into space and back to Earth.
For years, NASA has selected astronauts based on certain physical parameters including having full, unobstructed use of limbs with little, if any, consideration to candidates who may not meet these criteria. This study looks specifically at astronauts with certain physical disabilities including individuals with lower leg deficiency, short stature, and/or leg length differences, among others. The Institute consulted with medical experts, military leaders, industry leaders, other organizations and stakeholders, and subject matter experts including former astronauts Former NASA Administrator Major General Charles Bolden and Former NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathy Sullivan. With their guidance, this report outlines policy recommendations, technical, medical, and operational hurdles, and considerations to make sure potential parastronauts can safely fly and contribute to space missions.
CEO of Potomac Institute Dr. Jennifer Buss stated, “There are ways to safely send parastronauts into space. It is vital NASA and space agencies around the world look to include a wider range of space flight candidates, and not exclude any potential exemplar astronaut candidates based on physical limitations that do not align with current technological and medical advances. Our findings and recommendations stem from months of data collected from interviews, research, and other methodologies.”