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Camden New Journal - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Published: 29 May 2008
Real blue sky thinking could ‘reach for the stars’

• I’M not sure how a person with cerebral palsy would necessarily fare in space but the article about Anna Young (Sky’s no limit on a mission to the stars, May 15) is written with the usual congratulatory tone (what chutzpah!) yet none of the intellectual rigour that a pioneering idea like this deserves.
I cite an article that appeared in the New Scientist, February 2 1991, or simply type in “amputees in space”.
You will get this link:—mike-rogers-wantsto-leave-his-tin-leg-behind-on-earth.html
It was mooted that long ago, yet nothing much has been done even in an investigative capacity. Now that the UK has a space minister, Ian Pearson, and the possibility of a budding astronaut training programme, why can’t we be truly Earth-shattering for once?
Anyone with half a brain will understand Mike Rogers’ (a retired aerospace engineer and single amputee) arguments and one only has to watch NASA TV to see how absolutely useless, nay, disabling, legs are in space. Let’s cut the fiction about theoretical equality and address the issues pragmatically. I see nothing negative about dedicating our potential entire astronaut training programme to training lower limb disabled people who would actually bring advantages to the whole enterprise, no “give you a head start” patronising politics here.
Rogers quotes Professor Heinz Wolff from the bioengineering institute at Brunel University. Wolff had said: “…not entirely tongue-in-cheek, that legs are redundant in space.”
Who would these astronauts be? I think giving back a whole lot of dignity to amputee soldiers from Afghanistan and Iraq might be a start.
Ask yourself, could you really believe that a single or double amputee soldier has an unfair advantage over a “complete” bodied person?
Perhaps more than any financial settlement the government is willing to pay war veterans, should my idea not be considered more redemptive for the still-in-power government that had no idea in 2003 of just how many legs (and arms and…) would be blown to smithereens and, considerably more restorative for the veterans than just our tax pounds?
For now, never mind in the future when missions to Mars might materialise. It would be just brilliant to watch NASA TV and see British astronauts zooming around the international space station through all the hatches waiting for the rest of them to catch up and fit into those tiny cubby holes to fix and install components. It could be our one valuable and revolutionary contribution to an international co-operative effort which we deigned not to party with initially?
You saw it here first.
Miriam Harriott
Address supplied, NW1

Send your letters to: The Letters Editor, Camden New Journal, 40 Camden Road, London, NW1 9DR or email to The deadline for letters is midday Tuesday. The editor regrets that anonymous letters cannot be published, although names and addresses can be withheld. Please include a full name, postal address and telephone number. Letters may be edited for reasons of space.

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