(ORDO NEWS) — Warning Future Space Travelers: After this year, the FAA will no longer award wings to commercial astronauts.
The FAA said Friday it is “clipping the wings” of astronauts because too many people are now going into space and it is completely out of tune with traditional astronaut awards.
The news came the day before Blue Origin’s scheduled departure from West Texas with former NFL player and television celebrity Michael Strahan. He and five of his fellow travelers will continue to be eligible for the wings, as the FAA will continue its long-standing program until January 1, 2022.
NASA astronauts also have nothing to worry about going forward – they’ll still get their pins from the space agency.
All 15 people who went into space for the first time this year on private flights to the United States will be awarded wings, according to the FAA.
This list includes Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos and Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson, as well as other space rookies who have accompanied them on their brief up and down trips. Companies passed out their own versions of astronaut wings after flights.
All four passengers on SpaceX’s first private flight into orbit last September also qualified for FAA wings.
The addition of the next Blue Origin team of six will expand the list to 30. The FAA first received commercial wings in 2004.
The names of the future space tourists will be listed on the FAA’s commercial space travel list. To qualify, they must take off at least 50 miles (80 kilometers) on an FAA-sanctioned launch.
“The commercial human spaceflight industry in the United States has come a long way from conducting test flights to launching paid customers into space,” FAA Deputy Administrator Wayne Monteith said in a statement.
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