FAA Ends Commercial Space Astronaut Wings Program, Will Recognize Individuals Reaching Space on Website
WASHINGTON – 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.
For a complete list of FAA Commercial Space Astronaut Wings recipients, click here.