The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is releasing the findings of a months-long study for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Office of the Chief Health Medical Officer entitled: Parastronaut Feasibility Foundational Research Study.  NASA engaged the Institute to identify what it would take to fly astronauts with disabilities safely into space and back to Earth.  
For years, NASA has selected astronauts based on certain physical parameters including having full, unobstructed use of limbs with little, if any, consideration to candidates who may not meet these criteria.  This study looks specifically at astronauts with certain physical disabilities including individuals with lower leg deficiency, short stature, and/or leg length differences, among others.  The Institute consulted with medical experts, military leaders, industry leaders, other organizations and stakeholders, and subject matter experts including former astronauts Former NASA Administrator Major General Charles Bolden and Former NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathy Sullivan.  With their guidance, this report outlines policy recommendations, technical, medical, and operational hurdles, and considerations to make sure potential parastronauts can safely fly and contribute to space missions.  
CEO of Potomac Institute Dr. Jennifer Buss stated, “There are ways to safely send parastronauts into space.  It is vital NASA and space agencies around the world look to include a wider range of space flight candidates, and not exclude any potential exemplar astronaut candidates based on physical limitations that do not align with current technological and medical advances.  Our findings and recommendations stem from months of data collected from interviews, research, and other methodologies.”
The Institute has two versions of the report to release.   You  can read an abbreviated version of the report here and the full version of the report is available here which will link to the Institute’s website.  For interview requests with Institute staff or our subject matter experts, please contact Communications Director John Mecham at
About the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies
The Potomac Institute for Policy Studies is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit, science and technology (S&T) policy research institute. The Institute identifies and aggressively shepherds discussion on key science and technology and national security issues facing our society, providing an academic forum for the study of related policy issues. From these discussions and forums, we develop meaningful policy options and ensure their implementation at the intersection of business and government. For further information see