No more astronaut wings for commercial space travelers
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said it will stop awarding winged badges to commercial astronauts next year because the program’s goals have been “fulfilled.”
Instead of issuing Commercial Space Astronaut Wings, starting from next year, the FAA will just list the names of new space tourists on its website, the agency announced on Friday.
The FAA began awarding winged emblems to commercial space travelers in 2004 in an effort to incentivize private companies to build rockets and other spacecraft. This mission has been “largely fulfilled,” the agency said, adding that three companies are currently licensed to launch people into space.
“The US commercial human spaceflight industry has come a long way from conducting test flights to launching paying customers into space,” FAA Associate Administrator Wayne Monteith said.
The 15 commercial astronauts, who traveled beyond 50 miles above the surface this year, including billionaires Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, will still get their wings, the FAA said. Bezos and Branson own Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic aerospace companies respectively.
The announcement was made as Blue Origin prepares to launch six people into space on Saturday, including former NFL player and TV personality Michael Strahan.