Space & Astronomy
Branson and Bezos are not astronauts, US says
July 25, 2021 | 10 comments
Does a Virgin Galactic or Blue Origin flight make you an astronaut ? Image Credit: Virgin Galactic
Following the two billionaires' historic flights, the FAA has decided to tighten the definition of the term 'astronaut'.
Both Branson and Bezos, who soared into the heavens aboard their respective spacecraft earlier this month, have since been unofficially declared 'astronauts' for having flown in outer space.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), however, is not so sure.
In a Commercial Astronaut Wings program update announced on Tuesday, officials have refined the requirements necessary for someone to be officially classed as an astronaut.
While the main criteria, which requires that the individual must travel 50 miles above the Earth's surface, has been met by both Branson and Bezos, it is now also necessary for them to have "demonstrated activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety."
Exactly how this new clause can be in interpreted in the context of Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic's commercial flights remains unclear. Usually, only NASA or military personnel can earn their astronaut wings and the badges that the pair have been seen wearing following their flights are not official pins but mock-ups created by their respective companies.
While the FAA's associate administrator can technically give out honorary astronaut wings based on merit, it remains to be seen whether either of the billionaires will qualify for this either.
As things stand, becoming an astronaut seems to have become a whole lot more complicated.
Source: BBC News
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