FAA Decides Bezos, Branson and Shatner Are Astronauts After All

  • Everyone who exceeds 50 miles by Dec. 31 will receive commercial astronaut wing even if they were just passengers
  • Nobody after that will even if they pilot a ship
  • Agency reverses earlier decision to award wings only to those essential to flight operations/success
  • FAA says this is what was intended all along

WASHINGTON (FAA PR) – With the advent of the commercial space tourism era, starting in 2022, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will now recognize individuals who reach space on its website instead of issuing Commercial Space Astronaut Wings. Any individual who is on an FAA-licensed or permitted launch and reaches 50 statute miles above the surface of the Earth will be listed on the site. 

“The U.S. commercial human spaceflight industry has come a long way from conducting test flights to launching paying customers into space,” FAA Associate Administrator Wayne Monteith said. “The Astronaut Wings program, created in 2004, served its original purpose to bring additional attention to this exciting endeavor. Now it’s time to offer recognition to a larger group of adventurers daring to go to space.”

The FAA expects the commercial human spaceflight industry to continue to grow and the number of people launching to space to increase dramatically in the coming years.

The Wings program was created by the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation’s former Associate Administrator, the late Patti Grace Smith. Its purpose was to recognize pilots and flight crew who furthered the FAA’s mission to promote the development of vehicles designed to carry humans into space. With three commercial space companies now licensed by the FAA to fly spaceflight participants, and companies conducting operations, her vision is largely fulfilled. 

Before the Wings program ends, the FAA will award Commercial Space Astronaut Wings to those who had qualifying space travel in 2021, including 15 individuals who have already travelled beyond 50 statute miles above the surface of the Earth on a FAA-licensed launch. Individuals on qualifying flights occurring prior the end of the year are also eligible to receive Wings.

In addition, the FAA is making an honorary award of Commercial Space Astronaut Wings to two individuals who flew on a FAA-permitted experimental test flight in a space launch vehicle that broke up during flight in 2014.

FAA Commercial Human Spaceflight Recognition

This table lists individuals who have received FAA human spaceflight recognition. The 24 individuals who received FAA Commercial Space Astronaut Wings are identified with an asterisk (*). Others to be listed will include those exceeding 50 statute miles above the surface of the Earth on an FAA-licensed or permitted launch or reentry. Individuals who have qualified on more than one flight are identified by the plus sign (+) and only have their initial flight details listed.

NameOperatorMissionVehicleLaunch LocationQualification
(Flight) Date
Mike Melvill*+Scaled CompositesFlight 15PSpaceShipOneMojave Air and
Space Port, CA
6/21/2004
Brian Binnie*Scaled CompositesFlight 17PSpaceShipOneMojave Air and
Space Port, CA
10/04/2004
Michael Alsbury*Scaled CompositesPF04SpaceShipTwo
Enterprise
Mojave Air and
Space Port, CA
10/31/2014
Peter Siebold*Scaled CompositesPF04SpaceShipTwo
Enterprise
Mojave Air and
Space Port, CA
10/31/2014
Mark Stucky*Virgin GalacticVP-03SpaceShipTwo
Unity
Mojave Air and
Space Port, CA
12/13/2018
CJ Sturckow*Virgin GalacticVP-03SpaceShipTwo
Unity
Mojave Air and
Space Port, CA
12/13/2018
David Mackay*+Virgin GalacticVF-01SpaceShipTwo
Unity
Mojave Air and
Space Port, CA
2/22/2019
Michael Masucci*+Virgin GalacticVF-01SpaceShipTwo
Unity
Mojave Air and
Space Port, CA
2/22/2019
Beth Moses*+Virgin GalacticVF-01SpaceShipTwo
Unity
Mojave Air and
Space Port, CA
2/22/2019
Sir Richard Branson*Virgin GalacticVH-01SpaceShipTwo
Unity
Spaceport America, NM7/11/2021
Colin Bennett*Virgin GalacticVH-01SpaceShipTwo
Unity
Spaceport America, NM7/11/2021
Sirisha Bandla*Virgin GalacticVH-01SpaceShipTwo
Unity
Spaceport America, NM7/11/2021
Mark S. Bezos*Blue OriginNS-16/M15New ShepardLaunch Site One,
TX
7/20/2021
Jeffrey P. Bezos*Blue OriginNS-16/M15New ShepardLaunch Site One,
TX
7/20/2021
Wally Funk*Blue OriginNS-16/M15New ShepardLaunch Site One,
TX
7/20/2021
Oliver Daemen*Blue OriginNS-16/M15New ShepardLaunch Site One,
TX
7/20/2021
Jared Isaacman*SpaceXInspiration
4
Falcon 9Kennedy Space
Center, FL
9/16/2021
Dr. Sian
Proctor*
SpaceXInspiration
4
Falcon 9Kennedy Space
Center, FL
9/16/2021
Hayley
Arceneaux*
SpaceXInspiration
4
Falcon 9Kennedy Space
Center, FL
9/16/2021
Christopher
Sembroski*
SpaceXInspiration
4
Falcon 9Kennedy Space
Center, FL
9/16/2021
Audrey Powers*Blue OriginNS18New ShepardLaunch Site One,
TX
10/13/2021
William
Shatner*
Blue OriginNS18New ShepardLaunch Site One,
TX
10/13/2021
Dr. Chris
Boshuizen*
Blue OriginNS18New ShepardLaunch Site One,
TX
10/13/2021
Glen de Vries*Blue OriginNS18New ShepardLaunch Site One,
TX
10/13/2021