US says Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson are not astronauts

Sorry billionaires, the United States has moved to tighten up the formal definition of astronaut.

New Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules now state that an official space man or woman must have “demonstrated activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety.”

Blue Origin Jeff Bezos
Bezos traveled to space via his own Blue Origin company.
AFP via Getty Images

The changes are the first since the FAA wings program began in 2004, the BBC reported.

The new rules appear specifically designed to exclude the emerging class of billionaire space cowboys like Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson — both of whom helmed private space flights aboard their own vessels in recent days.

Richard Branson
Branson recently traveled to space too — via his Virgin Galactic outfit.
Virgin Galactic

The update was first posted online Tuesday — the same day Bezos and his Blue Origin shuttle launched into the edge of space.

Both Branson and Bezos wore a set of wings on their flights which were each custom made by their own companies.


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