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Mon, Jul 26, 2021

FAA Redefines The Term/Title 'Astronaut'

Following Both The Branson Circus and the Bezos Launch, FAA Decides To Put Foot Down

In a conversation shared amongst several astronauts (mostly Shuttle veterans), the question that was posed was this.... if everyone who rides to space thinks they automatically become astronauts, does that make every airline passenger automatically becomes a pilot?

Well, the FAA has thought long and hard about this, and issued an order clarifying the matter... and just in the nick of time, it seems. 

The 'Order provides guidelines, eligibility, and criteria for the administration of the FAA Commercial Space Astronaut Wings Program.'

New guidelines state, to be eligible for FAA Commercial Space Astronaut Wings, commercial launch crewmembers must meet the following criteria:

  • a. Meet the requirements for flight crew qualifications and training under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 460.
  • b. Demonstrated flight beyond 50 statute miles above the surface of the Earth as flight crew on an FAA/AST licensed or permitted launch or reentry vehicle.
  • c. Demonstrated activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety.

The FAA also states that, "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. Any updates to the eligibility will be recorded as a revision to this document."

In order to make sure that worthy personnel don't get cut out under proper circumstances, the FAA adds that, "There could be individuals whose contribution to commercial human space flight merits special recognition. The Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (AST-1) has total discretion regarding identifying and bestowing FAA honorary award of Commercial Space Astronaut Wings to individuals who demonstrated extraordinary contribution or beneficial service to the commercial human space flight industry. These individuals receiving an honorary award may not be required to satisfy all eligibility requirements. The honorary award can be granted posthumously."

Further; the Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (AST-1) or delegate will verify that prospective wing awardees have met the eligibility requirements listed within this document.

  • a. The Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation (AST-1) shall be the final authority to make the determination that a crewmember is eligible to be awarded the Commercial Space Astronaut Wings. To verify that the crew has satisfied the eligibility requirements and at the discretion of AST-1, additional information or an interview might be required.
  • b. The FAA will only issue one set of Commercial Space Astronaut Wings per eligible person.
  • c. The FAA and AST may cancel this program at any time.

And finally; should the FAA approve an astronaut candidate for the honor, the recipient’s name, mission, vehicle, maximum altitude, launch location, and flight date will be published on the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation’s website.

FMI: https://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Order/FAA_Order_8800.2.pdf


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