More commercial astronaut wings

By Marcia Dunn | Associated press

CAP CANAVERAL, Fla. – Attention future space travelers: No more commercial astronaut wings will be awarded by the Federal Aviation Administration after this year.

The FAA said on Friday it was cutting off its astronaut wings because too many people are now launching into space and is withdrawing completely from the astronaut designation business.

The news comes a day before Blue Origin’s scheduled take off from West Texas with former NFL player and TV celebrity Michael Strahan. He and his five other passengers will still be eligible for the wings since the FAA will not end its long-standing program until January 1.

NASA astronauts don’t have to worry about moving forward either – they’ll always get their pins from the space agency.

The 15 people who first traveled to space this year on private U.S. flights will receive their wings, according to the FAA. That includes Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic, as well as the other space newbies who have accompanied them on their brief journeys up and down. The companies distributed their own version of astronaut wings after the flights.

All four passengers on SpaceX’s first private flight to orbit last September also qualified for the FAA wings.

The addition of Blue Origin’s next six-member crew will bring the list to 30. The FAA’s first Commercial Wings recipient was in 2004.

Earlier this year, the FAA tightened its qualifications, specifying that winners must be trained crew members, instead of paying customers for the ride. But with the program coming to an end, the decision was made to be all-inclusive, a spokesperson said.

Future space tourists will have their names on an FAA commercial spaceflight list. To qualify, they must fly at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) on an FAA sanctioned launch.

“The US human spaceflight industry has come a long way from performing test flights to launching paying customers into space,” FAA Associate Administrator Wayne Monteith said in a statement. communicated. “Now it’s time to give recognition to a larger group of adventurers who dare to go to space. “

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