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. 

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New Shepard Spaceflight Participant Glen de Vries Dies in Plane Crash

Entrepreneur Glen de Vries, who rode to space with “Star Trek” actor William Shatner aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard vehicle on Oct. 13, was killed in the crash of a small plane in New Jersey on Thursday.

Media reports say de Vries died in the crash of a single-engine Cessna 172 near a state park in Lake Kermah, Hampton Township. New Jersey aviation company owner Thomas Fischer also died in the crash.

“We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries. He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired,” Blue Origin tweeted.

De Vries, 49, was vice chairman of life sciences and healthcare at Dassault Systèmes, parent corporation of Medidata Solutions. DeVries co-founded Medidata.

De Vries and Shatner flew to suborbital space with Planet Labs Co-founder Chris Boshuizen and Blue Origin Vice President of Operations Audrey Powers. The flight, launched from the company’s west Texas base, reached an altitude of 107 km (66.5 miles) and lasted 10 minutes 17 seconds.

William Shatner to Boldly Go Where No Star Trek Captain Has Gone Before on Blue Origin’s New Shepard

William Shatner with CrewMember 7 Sarah Knights (left), and Audrey Powers (right). (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Today, Blue Origin announced actor William Shatner and Audrey Powers, Blue Origin’s Vice President of Mission & Flight Operations, will fly on board New Shepard NS-18. They will join crewmates Chris Boshuizen and Glen de Vries for the flight which lifts off from Launch Site One on October 12.  

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Breaking Down Virgin Galactic’s Latest Flight Test

Take me out to the black,
Tell them I ain’t comin’ back.
Burn the land and boil the sea,
You can’t take the sky from me….

— “The Ballad of Serenity,” Sonny Rhodes

“After so many years and so much hard work, New Mexico has finally reached the stars.”

— New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

By now, you’ve probably read the rhetoric flourishes in Virgin Galactic’s press release about the company’s first suborbital flight test in more than two years that was conducted on Saturday. Suffice to say, if the stars were located at the altitude that SpaceShipTwo actually reached (55.45 miles/89.2 km), they would take the sky away at the same time they burned the land and boiled the seas. Being suborbital, VSS Unity wouldn’t have helped anyone escape the inferno.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen. So, let’s just put doomsday out of our minds. It’s time to break down what the flight test accomplished, what comes next, and why 27 months passed between powered flights. And what about Jeff Bezos?

Ready? Let’s go!

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Mojave Spaceport CEO Karina Drees to Become Commercial Spaceflight Federation President

Karina Drees

Washington, DC (CSF PR) – Commercial Spaceflight Federation announced today that Karina Drees will join the organization as its new president, effective January 4, 2021.

Since 2012, Drees served as CEO and General Manager of Mojave Air & Space Port (MASP) and held several other senior leadership positions at the company. She is currently the vice chair of the Federal Aviation Administration’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee (COMSTAC) and has been an active member of the CSF Board of Directors for five years, including serving as treasurer from 2017 to 2020.

“Karina brings an impressive amount of senior leadership and business acumen to CSF, as well as in-depth knowledge and experience in the policy and regulatory arenas and the proven ability to grow an organization and build strategic alliances with key industry stakeholders,” said Audrey Powers, CSF Chairwoman of the Board of Directors and Vice President of Legal and Compliance for Blue Origin.

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