Disability in Space

by debbievanderputten

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For a while I’ve been thinking about what could be my next project in showing the world that even when you have a disability the sky is still the limit! If you work hard enough, keep faith and have some bits of luck every now and then anything is possible.
Look at me, I went from a girl that sold icecream, had a horrible busaccident and lost her arm to Model on billboards at Picadilly Circus London.
I like to challenge myself by going scubadiving or jumping out of an airplane but I also like to challenge companies by asking them if they see the disabled comunity as real consumers by making them think about that subject I hope to create a more accesible and inclusive world.
Thats exactly what I’m doing at this point with my latest project, a few months ago I was watching the news about our dutch astronaut Andre Kuijpers getting send into space to do some experimental work in the ISS he is suppose to be there for a few months and him being in space for such a long time required total fitness. Not only for his stay but also to travel up there and to get back safe.
Straight away I thought about me seeing something on TV about commercial spacetourism I wondered if you allready could go to space and if it is possible to go with a disability.
Thank god for google I found out relative quickly that space tourism isn’t reality yet but we are quite close to it. The second discovery I did was that no one with a disability has ever been into space.
After a night of sleep I decided to do some research on posibilities for disabled to go into space but I couldn’t find any information on disability in space on any of the future space mission agencies websites.
I decided to send an email out to a dutch company called Space Expedition Curacao to ask them about taking disabled into space.
Their first reaction was surprised, a bit shocked because they never thought of it and very interested. We had a meeting in their headoffice in Amsterdam and I made them realise they were forgetting about a big group of people.
And that because this is such a new product, a new development and new business why not get it accesible and inclusive for everyone from the start instead of in 15 years?
From then it went very quickly we started to think about the accesibility, I’ve talked to the people of XCOR that are building the shuttle, we did a few health tests on me and yesterday I had my first trainings mission in the desdemona simulator.. And guess what turned out? I doen’t make a difference at all that I’m missing an arm!
At this point we are trying to find the last few sponsors to get the costs covered and then I’ll be the first person with a disability in space! Ok, I have to wait till they are done testing the Lynx space shuttle and they are making their first commercial flights but after that the sky is no longer the limit people!
And I will do anything I can and anything in my power to make space accesible for everyone no matter what ability..

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Me sitting in the Desdemona Training Simulator
20120531-011925.jpgMe and my fellow future astronauts