Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson's hopes of being called astronauts have been dashed by a new rule change.
Over the past couple of weeks, the two billionaires believed they had rocketed into space, spending a matter of minutes aboard their respective Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic spacecrafts.
On July 11, Branson was one of a select few passengers in his company's first manned flight into space from New Mexico, US.
Less than ten days later, Blue Origin repeated the feat with the world's richest person in Jeff Bezos joined by his brother and both the youngest and oldest people to have launched into space.
Previously just entering space was the threshold for earning the title of astronaut but with the dawn of commercial aerospace travel, US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) have moved the goal posts.
The Virgin and Amazon founders achieved FAA astronaut status for only a matter of days with a revised criteria specifying that they must have been vital to the safety of the flight, LadBible reports.
The FAA Commercial Space Astronaut Wings Program has updated its restrictions for the first time since it was introduced in 2004.
Influencer 'records moment she plummets to her death on horrific live stream'
According to SpaceNews, the FAA will now only award wings to commercial launch crew members who "meet the requirements in federal regulations for crew qualifications and training, and fly on an FAA-licensed or permitted launch to an altitude of at least 50 miles (80 kilometers)".
The order also demands those crew members to have demonstrated "activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety".
None of the Bezos brothers, Wally Funk or 18-year-old physics student Oliver Daemen qualify as astronauts as a result as none of them operated the spacecraft, which was designed to be controlled from the ground.
In a statement to SpaceNews, the FAA said: "When the program was first created in 2004, its focus was to recognise flight crew members who furthered the FAA's mission to promote the safety of vehicles designed to carry humans.
"The FAA has now changed the focus to recognise flight crew who demonstrate activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety, among other criteria."
The agency added that the change "aligns more directly to the FAA's role to protect public safety during commercial space operations".
The FAA can give 'honorary' wings to "individuals who demonstrated extraordinary contribution or beneficial service to the commercial human space flight industry".
It adds: "These individuals receiving an honorary award may not be required to satisfy all eligibility requirements."
For more incredible stories from the Daily Star, make sure you sign up to one of our newsletters here
Source: Read Full Article