FAA changes definition of “Astronaut” on day Bezos flies to space

New Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules say astronaut hopefuls must be part of the flight crew and make contributions to space flight safety.

That means Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson may not yet be astronauts in the eyes of the US government.

These are the first changes since the FAA wings programme began in 2004.

The Commercial Astronaut Wings programme updates were announced on Tuesday – the same day that Amazon’s Mr Bezos flew aboard a Blue Origin rocket to the edge of space.

To qualify as commercial astronauts, space-goers must travel 50 miles (80km) above the Earth’s surface, which both Mr Bezos and Mr Branson accomplished.

But altitude aside, the agency says would-be astronauts must have also “demonstrated activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety”.

What exactly counts as such is determined by FAA officials.

In a statement, the FAA said that these changes brought the wings scheme more in line with its role to protect public safety during commercial space flights.

On 11 July, Sir Richard flew on-board Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo to the edge of space as a test before allowing customers aboard next year.

Mr Bezos and the three other crew members who flew on Blue Origin’s spacecraft may have less claim to the coveted title. Ahead of the launch, Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said that “there’s really nothing for a crew member to do” on the autonomous vehicle.

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Source: Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson may not be astronauts, US says – BBC News

This looks childish to me – they went to space, they are definitely pioneers. And it’s not like there are going to be very many of them.

You can find the order here (pdf) and see that they added 5 c

Note FAA Part 460 human spaceflight requirements is also interesting in this discussion regarding human space flight participants

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