Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Virgin Group CEO Sir Richard Branson both recently travelled to space. Bezos used his Blue Origin New Sheperd rocket to reach space, while Branson used his Virgin Galactic Unity 22 aircraft.
According to Unilad, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued new guidelines stating that visiting space once is not enough to call someone an astronaut.
— The Hill (@thehill) July 25, 2021
The protocol, specifically directed to FAA’s Commercial Space Astronaut Wings Program, says that neither Bezos nor Branson qualifies for the position.
According to the new rules, “In order to maintain the prestige of Commercial Space Astronaut Wings, the FAA may further refine the eligibility requirements at any time as it deems appropriate.” The richest person in the world right now, Jef Bezos, does not meet the new guidelines, as his flight didn’t demonstrate activities “that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety.”
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) July 25, 2021
“There’s really nothing for a crew member to go do,” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith said earlier. This statement implies that Bezos’ crew’s actions did not contribute to the safety of human space flight.
Meanwhile, Branson’s trip to the edge of space served as a trial run before allowing customers to board next year. Although the English business magnate does not qualify for astronaut status, the two pilots who fly with him do.
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 12, 2021
The FAA, on the other hand, states that “there may be individuals whose contribution to commercial human space flight merits special recognition.” As a result, Bezos and Branson have a chance to be recognised as astronauts.