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Branson and Bezos are not astronauts, US says

Posted on Sunday, 25 July, 2021 | Comment icon 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 | Comments (10)

Tags: Astronaut, Bezos, Branson

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Timothy on 25 July, 2021, 10:15
Of course; they were simply passengers. Flying in an aircraft doesn’t make you a pilot. Traveling on a boat doesn’t make you a captain. Being a passenger in a car doesn’t make you a driver. They we’re simply passengers along for the ride.
Comment icon #2 Posted by third_eye on 25 July, 2021, 10:58
They're Space tourists...  ~
Comment icon #3 Posted by eight bits on 25 July, 2021, 12:59
It's a small point, maybe, but I don't see the public relations upside of a government agency (rhymes with "unelected bureaucrats" and "desk jockeys") changing the definition of a modest recognition of achievement on the very day that someone satisfied the previously announced standard for that recognition. In any case, it is a nice illustration of bureaucracy failing to keep up with technological progress in the field it ostensibly regulates. The point of Blue Origin is that it is an autonomous vehicle - unless something malfunctions, everybody on board is supposed to be "just a passenger." A... [More]
Comment icon #4 Posted by joc on 25 July, 2021, 13:07
 They are Space Cadets...
Comment icon #5 Posted by third_eye on 25 July, 2021, 13:49
No they're not... They're the paymasters...and they don't wear uniforms  ~
Comment icon #6 Posted by jethrofloyd on 25 July, 2021, 15:22
Space ticket controllers?
Comment icon #7 Posted by DreadLordAvatar on 25 July, 2021, 21:44
Astronaut posers!
Comment icon #8 Posted by Jon the frog on 27 July, 2021, 2:50
It's becoming an ego fluke test of epic proportions. Nasa vs private industries, billionaires vs billionaires ...
Comment icon #9 Posted by sanescotty on 28 July, 2021, 6:54
?Posted by Timothy on 7/25/202 Of course; they were simply passengers. Flying in an aircraft doesn?t make you a pilot. Traveling on a boat doesn?t make you a captain. Being a passenger in a car doesn?t make you a driver. They we?re simply passengers along for the ride? By your logic then, Neil Armstrong isnt an astronaut since he neither piloted the command module or the lunar landing module. Your logic also means that mist of the shuttle astronauts arent astronauts as well.  According to the dictionary Merriam-Webster, an astronaut is defined as "a person who travels beyond the earth's atmosp... [More]
Comment icon #10 Posted by Timothy on 1 August, 2021, 12:30
He trained strenuously and performed critical tasks, he’s an astronaut.

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