back to article No more Commercial Space Astronaut Wings after this year because FAA has been handing them out like candy

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is ending its Commercial Space Astronaut Wings programme, citing waning exclusivity. "The Astronaut Wings program, created in 2004, served its original purpose to bring additional attention to this exciting endeavour," said FAA associate administrator Wayne Monteith, adding: "Now it's …

  1. NoneSuch Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Astronaut wings should only go out to people professionally employed as astronauts who have completed one complete orbit around the Earth. No space tourists allowed.

    1. JassMan Silver badge


      I tend to agree with you. Maybe they should have had 2 versions. The existing one for the pilots, and one with folded wings for the tourists. The main problem with the scheme is that makes no distinction between getting 50 miles above the earth's surface for a few minutes, and actually getting to a stable orbit,

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Raising the bar

        I feel like there is something to be said for raising the bar for the astronaut wings to the orbital level. I also agree that their should be a distinction between flight crew, and passengers. The pilots for Virgins joy ride sled clearly aren't passive ballast on their flights, and deserve recognition like military pilots that are operating at altitude but on suborbital trajectories.

        I feel like passengers should get recognition for completing meaningful science or technical roles as well, but tourists, even orbital ones, shouldn't get the same honors as the flight crew.

        Airplane pilots get wings, passengers get a complementary drink and some salty nuts. Though that would make a funny mission patch I guess.

        1. HildyJ Silver badge

          Re: Raising the bar

          In ye olden days, kids on airplanes got a plastic replica of the pilot's wings. Seems appropriate for childish billionaire space tourists.

          1. YetAnotherJoeBlow Bronze badge

            Re: Raising the bar

            In the 60s, American Airlines gave me metal wings, TWA's were plastic.

        2. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: Raising the bar

          I think Virgin's joy ride sled should be a special case. You couldn't pay me to climb aboard that thing, but anyone who has the guts to do so deserves some form of recognition.

          1. Robert Helpmann??

            Re: Raising the bar

            ...Virgin's joy ride sled should be a special case... anyone who has the guts to [climb aboard] deserves some form of recognition.

            There is always the Darwin Awards. Maybe create a category for special effort?

            *Mine's the one with a dog-eared copy of On the Origin of Species in the pocket.

        3. Rattus

          Re: Raising the bar

          I think you have missed that not all crew fly their craft.... to differentiate between those being paid to be there and those paying to be there is a little harsh.

          that said, ending the current scheme and replacing with a new one that pushes the envelope further is the righ thing to do.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: @NoneSuch

        "makes no distinction between getting 50 miles above the earth's surface for a few minutes, and actually getting to a stable orbit"

        Exactly. Going up 50 miles and coming back down again is roughly the rich-person's version of a little kiddie's bounce-house. Rides on the Vomit Comet provide roughly the same entertainment, last longer, and are a hell of a lot cheaper. These folks are just passengers. Perhaps a patch with a sack of potatoes on it?

        1. JassMan Silver badge

          Re: @Jake

          Not a sack of potatoes, a Mr.Potato Head clutching a fistful of dollars.

          1. Snowy Silver badge

            Re: @Jake

            FFFY A Mr.Potato Head shitting out a fistful of dollars.

    2. cyberdemon Silver badge

      Re: No space tourists allowed

      > Astronaut wings should only go out to people professionally employed as astronauts who have completed one complete orbit around the Earth.

      One complete orbit? A tourist could do that without much training.

      I'd rather it say: Played an operational role on board a vehicle capable of EVA which reached stable orbit (or beyond).

      (i.e. you need to be properly trained on the operation of a fucking complicated vehicle, in the same way as a pilot of a commercial airliner who might've earned the FAA's original badge)

  2. Howard Sway Silver badge

    will no longer receive a badge

    Well in that case I've changed my mind, and I'm NOT GOING!

    1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

      Re: will no longer receive a badge

      Well, in keeping with the commercialisation of space, why should the FAA have a monopoly on the granting of wings? Simply send 10 bitcoin and you'll be issued your wings. Assuming I can attach a pair to Blue Origin's thruster without breaching obscenity laws. But then I guess BO and SpaceX can sell their own commemorative ones anyway.

      Personally, I think the FAA should keep them, but tighten the criteria to orbits and beyond.

      1. Keven E

        Re: will no longer receive a badge

        It's ok now that Shatner has one...

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Astronaut wings?

    For escaping the atmosphere, perhaps indefinitely sustainably as a qualifying feature, wouldn't the shedding of wings be more appropriate symbolism?

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