According to the American agency, this name can be defined as people who “during the flight perform activities for public safety or contribute to the safety of space flights”
They were the first two men to make private space tourist flights. But they cannot yet be considered astronauts. We are talking about Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson, who in recent weeks, together with the crews of their Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic, have completed the first tourist flights to space (here the story of Bezos and Branson’s flight) . Many have described them as the first private astronauts, but the American aviation administration, the body that oversees the civil aviation sector, said “no”.
The new definition of a commercial astronaut
Tuesday, July 20, the very day of the launch of the Amazon patron’s Blue Origin (and the same day that the historic moon landing of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969 is remembered) are some changes have been introduced in the definition of “commercial astronaut”. This too can be defined as a historic moment, because since 2004 no changes have been made. To be called a commercial astronaut, the FAA explains, a person must first reach 80km away from the surface of the Earth. On this first point, no problem, because both Bezos and Branson have exceeded this threshold: respectively they reached 106 and 88 km in height (to learn more: all the details of Bezos and Branson’s flight).
The motivation of the novelties
The question comes to the second part of the definition: an astronaut, in fact, “during the flight must perform activities that are essential for public safety, or contribute to the safety of space flights”. And here the “dream” of the two billionaires ends, because their launches into space we saw them simply enjoying the moment together with their flight mates (with Bezos they flew the youngest and oldest person ever in space) but without get to work for the safety of others. Finally, the FAA explained that these innovations were introduced to “be more in line with its role in protecting public safety during commercial space flights”.
July 25, 2021 (change July 25, 2021 | 11:32)
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