Bezos' Space Wings Clipped After FAA Sets New Astronaut Standards on Blue Origin Launch Date
© REUTERS / BLUE ORIGINBillionaire Jeff Bezos, founder of ecommerce company Amazon.com Inc, rings a bell before boarding ahead of his scheduled flight aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket near Van Horn, Texas, 20 July 2021 in a still image from a video
© REUTERS / BLUE ORIGIN
On Tuesday, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos became the second billionaire to travel to space via a privately-owned spacecraft. During the 10-minute trip, Bezos, his brother, an 18-year-old boy from the Netherlands and an 82-year-old aviation enthusiast reached an altitude of around 66 miles (106 kilometres) with Blue Origin's fully-automated capsule.
While Bezos said his Tuesday spaceflight was the "best day ever", the monumental moment came alongside an unexpected order from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on new requirements for the Commercial Space Astronaut Wings Program.
Previously, an individual qualified for their Commercial Space Astronaut Wings if they "demonstrate flight beyond 50 statute miles above the surface of the Earth as flight crew on an FAA-licensed or permitted launch reentry vehicle."
Per the order, effective July 20, the recipient will also be required to demonstrate "activities during flight that were essential to public safety" or contribute "to human space flight safety."
While the Blue Origin launch satisfied the FAA's altitude requirement, the capsule was fully automated, leaving no tasks for the passengers.
It is worth noting that the winged pins given to Bezos and others after the flight were supplied by Blue Origin.
© REUTERS / Joe SkipperBillionaire American businessman Jeff Bezos (L) receives his astronaut's wings from Blue Origin's Jeff Ashby, a former space shuttle commander, as he and his crew mates appear at a post-launch news conference after they flew on Blue Origin's inaugural flight to the edge of space, in the nearby town of Van Horn, Texas, U.S. July 20, 2021
Billionaire American businessman Jeff Bezos (L) receives his astronaut's wings from Blue Origin's Jeff Ashby, a former space shuttle commander, as he and his crew mates appear at a post-launch news conference after they flew on Blue Origin's inaugural flight to the edge of space, in the nearby town of Van Horn, Texas, U.S. July 20, 2021
© REUTERS / Joe Skipper
Despite Bezos and company missing out on the new requirements for their Commercial Space Astronaut Wings, it remains possible that they could receive an honorary award.
"There could be individuals whose contribution to commercial human space flight merits special recognition," the updated policy read, highlighting that the Associate Administrator for Commercial Space Transportation would bestow the honor on "individuals who demonstrated extraordinary contribution or beneficial service to the commercial human space flight industry".