Inclusive outer space: First disabled crew takes flight in zero gravity

WION Web Team
Washington, United States Published: Dec 10, 2021, 09:34 PM(IST)

Disabled ambassadors selected for Mission AstroAccess inside a Boeing 727. (Image credit: Al Powers) Photograph:( Others )

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Sina Bahram, a blind computer scientist from North Carolina, who was part of the crew, describes the experience as 'magical'

The next frontier of space exploration is accessibility. In a first, a disabled crew has taken flight in zero gravity.

The CEO of Mission: AstroAccess, Eric Ingram selected 12 disabled ambassadors to make sure that outer space is inclusive.

Sina Bahram, a blind computer scientist from North Carolina, who was part of the crew, describes the experience as ''magical.''

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''I've wanted to do this since I was four years old, but the underlying assumption was 'that's totally impossible'.''

Ingram was born with a rare form of arthrogryposis, a physical disability, and wants to challenge the perception that space travel is only for those who meet specific physical criteria.

''I've just been space-focused in pretty much everything I've done career-wise, which has been exciting, and having a disability, and always wanting to go to space, it was kind of always a limiting factor,'' he said.

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''Despite knowing that I'm not going to get accepted, I have applied to become an astronaut twice.''

The non-profit group's mission includes designing technologies with the help of disabled individuals to drive space exploration of all.

For this, they created an illusion of weightlessness for 20 seconds in a Boeing 727 which flew in large arcs.

They utilised sound or vibrations to convey information and incorporated tactile pathways for the disabled team members.

''We combined the textures for the blind or low vision group with the handholds of the mobility impairment group. So, if you've got handholds down the wall, and each of them is textured differently, that provides a different amount of information,'' said Ingram.

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