Paralympian astronaut’s prosthetic leg tested amid poison fears for space station

Concerns carbon fibre and foam leg could give off dangerous toxic gases over time

A disabled astronaut is having his prosthetic leg tested amid fears it could be poisonous for the air inside a space station.

Former British Paralympian John McFall will have tests carried out on the leg by the European Space Agency (ESA) to ensure it does not give off dangerous toxic gases over time.

Mr McFall was selected to join the ESA in November 2022, and is undertaking astronaut training and a feasibility project with a view to boarding the International Space Station (ISS).

He lost his right leg in a motorcycle crash when he was 19 but went on to become a professional track and field athlete, winning a bronze medal at the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008.


“It’s stuff you don’t necessarily think of,” Mr McFall told the Telegraph. “The socket is carbon fibre and it’s got like a high-density foam on the inside. The carbon fibre socket is impregnated with a resin. The foam is made with polymers.

“Those materials will continue to give off gases to one degree or another and in an environment like the ISS where the air is constantly recycled, any significant amount of gases that are produced from a material will be amplified over a period of time because they’re not filtered out.”

The feasibility study will help the ESA to assess the impact that being an amputee and wearing a prosthesis will have on the requirements for living and working in space, and test possible solutions to any problems.

A decision on whether Mr McFall will fly on a mission into space will likely be made after the study has concluded in 2025.