According to a new order from the Federal Aviation Administration, Jeff Bezos’ 10 minute suborbital jaunt likely won’t qualify him for Commercial Space Astronaut Wings.
The FAA released new requirements for the wings on July 20, the same day Bezos blasted off from rural Texas. Before, the only requirement to get a pair of wings was to “demonstrate flight beyond 50 statute miles above the surface of the Earth as flight crew on an FAA licensed or permitted launch reentry vehicle.”
Now, the recipient must also demonstrate “activities during flight that were essential to public safety” or contribute “to human space flight safety.”
When the commercial astronaut wings program was started in 2004, “its focus was to recognize flight crewmembers who furthered the FAA’s mission to promote the safety of vehicles designed to carry humans,” the FAA said in a statement to MarketWatch.
The change in requirements “aligns more directly to the FAA’s role to protect public safety during commercial space operations,” the FAA said.
SpaceShipOne test pilots Mike Melvill and Brian Binnie were awarded the first pair of the wings in 2004.
Five Virgin Galactic
pilots received wings from the FAA in 2019. Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic’s founder, made his inaugural flight on July 11. The billionaire has yet to receive official wings from the federal government.
Since Bezos’ Blue Origin flight was not piloted by any of its four passengers, it’s unclear if it would have met the wings requirements to begin with. However, Bezos and crew could still receive “honorary” wings, according to the order.
“There could be individuals whose contribution to commercial human space flight merits special recognition,” it reads. The administration could still issue honorary wings to “individuals who demonstrated extraordinary contribution or beneficial service to the commercial human space flight industry.”