The AstroAccess project is working on disability inclusion, helping people to access space through zero gravity flights.
#AstroAccess PRESS RELEASE🚨— AstroAccess (@astroaccess) December 16, 2022
AstroAccess Successfully Completes First Weightless Research Flight with International Disabled Crew! #AA2 #GalacticAccessibility
Read the full press release here: https://t.co/kBE6msMUeo
AstroAccess is a project dedicated to promoting disability inclusion in space exploration by paving the way for disabled astronauts and by launching them on parabolic flights with the Zero Gravity Corporation (Zero-G), as the first step in a progression toward flying a diverse range of people to space. The first formal space research flight by AstroAccess took place on December 15, taking onboard 14 disability ambassadors. Selected folks were grouped in science projects called Blind, Mobility, Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing.
“AstroAccess is proving that space can one day be accessible for everyone,” said space entrepreneur and Space For Humanity founder Dylan Taylor, who made it to orbit himself in 2021 on board a Blue Origin New Shepard system.
Together with AstroAccess co-founder George Whitesides, Taylor co-sponsored the flight with the disability ambassadors.
The December 15 flight was the second-ever dedicated flight for the organization after it opened opportunities in October 2021 to any adult with disabilities living in the US.
Among the several experiments conducted by the AstroAccess team, the Blind Crew tested tactile graphics for cabin walls to allow both blind crew members and sighted crew members to stay oriented during emergencies and find emergency gear. Another test was conducted by the Deaf crew, which has continued their work on linguistics studies of intelligibility of American Sign Language (ASL) in zero gravity, following research on another parabolic flight and a scuba diving experiment.
Space ventures are starting to become more inclusive to disabled people, with last year’s SpaceX Inspiration4 flight making headlines with Hayley Arceneaux and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) November selection of paralympian trauma surgeon John McFall.
3. Zero gravity aircraft
The participants used a proper “Zero-G” aircraft that flew 18 parabolas starting from an altitude of 7,620 meters. The mission took off and landed at Ellington Airport in Houston, nearby NASA’s Johnson Space Center where astronauts usually do training in the US. “While there is still work to be done to make space accessible for everyone, the success of this historic parabolic flight and ESA’s selection of John McFall show strong movement in the right direction,” said Anna Voelker, AstroAccess’ Executive Director.