PARACHASM : Parastronaut research consortium

The term ‘parastronaut’ refers to astronauts with disabilities. As per December 2023, there is only one parastronaut currently enlisted in the ESA astronaut corps. The first analogue space mission with a parastronaut however, took place already in 2017 at LunAres Research Station.

As CHASM, we believe that analogue space missions should be an extensive test bed and springboard to understanding and preparing missions for parastronauts. Some of the reasons for this are:

  • Persons with disabilities live in an extreme environment that is not built for them – thus they might have already the right mindset, skillset to work in the extreme environment that is space. Some disabilities might become a ‘hyperability’ in space.
  • In space and especially in future Mars missions and Martian colonies, the probability of injury and debilitating diseases will increase and procedures need to be developed to prepare for such cases
  • Space should be more inclusive and prepare for a society that welcome all its members

Why the consortium?

The amount of procedures, habitats, communication tools and other parameters of missions that need to be changed and improved for different types of disabilities is large. The PARACHASM consortium provides an exchange platform for several organisations, to discuss future missions, roadmap and strategy to for the gathering of information and excellent research to pave the way for parastronauts, first on Earth and then in Space.

The consortium is composed of LunAres Research Station, which conducts several parastronaut missions; ENTRANT, which conducts life science research on astronauts and the DIVINAS project from SGAC. Advice is also provided by the Hydronaut team.

The roadmap

Step 1: Analyse the results of the ICAres-2 parastronaut missions to better understand how the mission design must be adapted. This includes simulation of MCC crew members with disabilities too. RESEARCHERS WANTED !

Step II: Simulate an accident within missions and have parastronauts teach other astronauts how to cope with a disability.

Step III: List all modifications that need to be made to mission design, protocols and communication per disability.

Step IV: Start researching how these modifications apply to outer space missions

Step V: Identify the policies that need to be changed to improve inclusivity in space

Research papers

Analogue space missions as testing platforms for a broader access to space for parastronauts, T. Ducai, E.Poli, IAC 2023

Gender Parity and Parastronauts: Anticipating trends for the 2021 ESA astronaut selection criterion with analog mission studies, L. Orzechowski, A. Mintus, A. Wasniowski, N. Cwilichowska, IAC 2021