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Book a spaceflight, get your wings? Not so fast, FAA rules

Blue Origin
Blue Origin
Published: Jul. 26, 2021 at 3:10 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON, D.C., Fla. (WWSB) - You’ve paid big bucks for a seat on either Richard Branson’s SpaceShip 2 or Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket into suborbital space. The trip is wonderful, you float weightless for a few minutes, and land safety back on Earth. Does this mean you’re an actual astronaut?

Sorry, you’re probably not, the Federal Aviation Administration has ruled.

In an order released last week to “maintain the prestige” of the FAA Commercial Space Astronaut Wings Program, the FAA issued guidelines and criteria for potential nominees.

To be considered an astronaut, any person must meet the requirements for flight crew qualifications and training under current federal regulations. Those include training for any specific mission, including abort and emergency scenarios; be physically able to withstand the stresses of spaceflight; and be an employee or independent contractor performing activities “that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety.”

The flight must also reach beyond 50 statute miles above the surface of the Earth as flight crew on a licensed or permitted launch or reentry vehicle.

Candidates must be nominated by the U.S. government agency, such as the FAA or Department of Transportation; or an FAA licensed launch and/or reentry vehicle operator.

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