Space travel is becoming more accessible and feasible. Still, there is much room for inclusivity for the differently-abled astronauts and future astronauts.
A nonprofit organization named AstroAccess has launched a parabolic flight. It is a plane that flies in large arcs to simulate zero gravity. It was executed last Sunday that comprised 12 disabled passengers, The New York Times reports. The objective of the flight was to see how people with disabilities could handle a zero-gravity environment, and those onboard found the experience to be quite odd.
“It was legitimately weird,” Eric Ingram, and one of the passengers on the flight, told the NYT. Ingram uses a wheelchair due to a rare condition that impacts his joints, but the flight gave him the opportunity to do things like stand for the first time ever. “Just the act of standing was probably almost as alien to me as floating in zero gravity,” he added.
Sawyer Rosenstein, another passenger, stated that he felt more in control of his body than he feels in a regular atmosphere.
Rosenstein, who is paralyzed from the waist down, wore a modified flight suit that had a strap to handle his legs. He found out that the zero-gravity environment enabled him to test his body’s full range of motion. His chronic pain also went away during the flight.
“I was in control of myself and my whole body,” Rosenstein told the NYT. “It’s almost indescribable to have that freedom after having it taken away for so long.”
AstroAccess was created to incorporate inclusivity and accessibility for people who are differently-abled but interested in space.
NASA has always hired people who are physically fit and are only white. They have now started having more diverse recruitments but there is still a long way to go. This initiative shows that disabled folks can be great astronauts.