FAA announced Friday that it is removing its astronaut wings due to too many people launching into space.
This news comes just one day before Blue Origin's scheduled liftoff from West Texas with Michael Strahan, former NFL player and TV star. The FAA won't end its long-standing program for passengers until January 1. He and his five companions will still be eligible to fly.
NASA astronauts don't have to be concerned about the future -- they will still receive their pins at the space agency.
According to the FAA, all 15 people who launched into space on private U.S. flight this year will receive their wings. This includes Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin, and Richard Branson from Virgin Galactic. After the flights, each company gave out its own version of astronaut wings.
SpaceX's private launch to orbit in September last year saw four passengers who also received FAA wings.
Blue Origin's next crew will be six, bringing the total to 30. 2004 was the FAA's first recipient of commercial wings.
The FAA tightened its qualifications earlier this year. It now requires that all awardees be crew members and not customers who pay for their services. A spokesperson said that the program was ending and the decision was taken to include all participants.
Future space tourists will be able to have their names added to a FAA commercial flight list. They must fly at least 50 miles (80 km) in an FAA-approved launch to be eligible.
Wayne Monteith, the FAA's associate administrator, stated that "the U.S. commercial spaceflight industry is a long way away from performing test flights to launching paying clients into space." "Now is the time to recognize a wider range of adventurers who dare to go into space."
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