Whether the average person considers Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson to be cosmic explorers after their delightful flights in the upper atmosphere, they and their crew members have fulfilled the FAA’s criteria for “astronauts.” They even give them little medals! And they will be the last of its kind.
The administration announced an abrupt end to the Commercial Astronaut Wings program today. The 2021 recipients are Bezos and Branson too Star Trek Actor William Shatner. Since its inception in 2004, 24 individuals have been honored, 15 of whom received their wings this year. Beginning January 1, 2022, only those who normally qualify for wings will be recognized on the FAA’s website.
Wings . has been created […] To recognize the pilots and flight crew who have furthered the FAA’s mission to advance the development of vehicles designed to carry humans into space, “with three commercial space companies now licensed by the FAA to fly involved in spaceflight, and the companies conducting operations, [program creator Patti Grace Smith’s] The vision has been largely achieved.”
Arguably, ego’s flight at 50 miles is fundamentally different from spending time on the International Space Station or landing on the Moon. So while it might be weird seeing two guys who actually have it all claim that a piece of space travel memorabilia is about to become extinct soon, keep in mind that it’s just one of many similar trinkets. Astronauts can still be given different wings, arguably the most beautiful appearance from each branch of the military, in three different shades. NASA also produces non-military pins for astronauts, and separate pins for civilians who participate in missions. If anything, the refusal to hand-gift a scientifically useless exercise in polluting the environment suggests that respect for humankind for space travel still applies.
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