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​Jeff Bezos Is Not An Astronaut, Says Federal Aviation Authority

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​Jeff Bezos Is Not An Astronaut, Says Federal Aviation Authority

Jeff Bezos is not officially an astronaut despite extravagantly jetting off to space earlier this week, following new rules introduced by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).

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That's right, you can throw as much money as you like at space travel, but it won't necessarily make you one of the big dogs, as the Amazon founder has just found out.

Bezos and the crew of Blue Origin took off on the commercial trip on Tuesday (20 July) morning, in a trip that last just over 10 minutes.

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Credit: PA
Credit: PA

The flight qualified him as an FAA commercial astronaut, but it turns out his glory as a spaceman is short-lived, as the FAA has revised its criteria for awarding astronaut wings to those flying on commercial spacecraft, meaning that the requirements are now much stricter.

In the first formal update of the FAA Commercial Space Astronaut Wings Program since it was introduced in 2004, the FAA issued an order describing the scheme and its criteria for awarding them on 20 July.

According to SpaceNews, the order states that the FAA will award wings to commercial launch crew members who 'meet the requirements in federal regulations for crew qualifications and training, and fly on an FAA-licensed or permitted launch to an altitude of at least 50 miles (80 kilometers)'.

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Credit: PA
Credit: PA

It also requires those crew members to have demonstrated 'activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety'.

Bezos flew with his brother Mark, Wally Funk - one of 13 female pilots who went through the same tests as NASA's Mercury 7 astronauts in the early 1960s but never made it into space because only men were allowed - and 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen.

However, as none of them operated the spacecraft, which was designed to be controlled from the ground, the trip does not meet the FAA criteria for commercial astronaut wings.

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In a statement to SpaceNews, the FAA said: "When the program was first created in 2004, its focus was to recognize flight crew members who furthered the FAA's mission to promote the safety of vehicles designed to carry humans.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

"The FAA has now changed the focus to recognize flight crew who demonstrate activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety, among other criteria."

The agency added that the change 'aligns more directly to the FAA's role to protect public safety during commercial space operations'.

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The new order does allow the FAA to issue 'honorary' wings to individuals who would not otherwise meet the criteria, with the order stating that these would go to 'individuals who demonstrated extraordinary contribution or beneficial service to the commercial human space flight industry'.

It adds: "These individuals receiving an honorary award may not be required to satisfy all eligibility requirements."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: News, jeff bezos, US News, space

Jess Hardiman
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