Jeff Bezos’ 10-minute suborbital getaway likely won’t qualify him for commercial space astronaut wings, according to a new order from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The FAA issued new wing requirements on July 20, the same day Bezos took off from rural Texas. Previously, the only requirement to obtain a pair of wings was to “demonstrate flight beyond 50 statute miles above the earth’s surface as a flight crew on a launch reentry vehicle. approved or authorized by the FAA “.
Now, the recipient must also demonstrate “activities during flight which were essential to public safety” or contribute “to the safety of human spaceflight”.
Read more: The Blue Origin flight, a small step for Jeff Bezos, a giant leap for memekind
When the Commercial Astronaut Wing Program was launched in 2004, “its purpose was to recognize flight crew members who furthered the FAA’s mission of promoting the safety of vehicles designed to transport humans.” the FAA said in a statement to MarketWatch.
The change in requirements “aligns more directly with the role of the FAA in protecting public safety during commercial space operations,” the FAA said.
SpaceShipOne test pilots Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie received the first pair of wings in 2004.
Five Virgin Galactic SPCE,
pilots received FAA wings in 2019. Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Galactic, made his maiden flight on July 11. The billionaire has yet to receive official wings from the federal government.
Given that Bezos’ Blue Origin flight was not flown by any of its four passengers, it is not clear whether it would have met the wing requirements to begin with. However, Bezos and his crew could still receive “honorary” wings, according to the order.
“There could be individuals whose contribution to commercial human spaceflight deserves special recognition,” we read. The administration could still issue honorary wings to “individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary contribution or beneficial service to the commercial human spaceflight industry.”