Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson not yet astronauts, US says

Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson not yet astronauts, US says
Bezos and the Blue Origin team may not qualify as astronauts. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: The US has tightened its definition of the word “astronaut” in a move that pours cold water on the dreams of a few billionaire space explorers. The new rules suggest that Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson are not yet astronauts.

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

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

These are the first changes since the Federal Aviation Administration wings programme began in 2004.

On Tuesday, the Commercial Astronaut Wings programme updates were announced- the same day that Amazon boss Mr Bezos flew aboard a Blue Origin rocket to the edge of space.

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

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

What exactly counts as such is determined by the officials from FAA.

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

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

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

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