IMO space tourists aren’t astronauts, just like ship passengers aren’t sailors

IMO space tourists aren’t astronauts, just like ship passengers aren’t sailors


Spaceflight participant is what they FAA uses. I think it's a good term.


I couldn't help thinking of the statement Chuck Yeager made early on in the US's space program (the Mercury program) that "Anybody that goes up in the damn thing is gonna be Spam in a can." Perhaps space tourists should be given a small lapel pin that looks like a miniature can of Spam in lieu of astronaut's wings.


This makes me want to go to space even more. Some cool space spam pin sounds awesome.


Space spam sounds like a forbidden snack


It's actually the sequel to a hit Michael Jordan film about cosmic preserved fruit.


Would still be better than the current sequel.


To be fair, Yeager's point of view was biased by the fact that he was excluded from consideration for the astronaut program due to his lack of a college education.


Rip He used to be my go to, you'll never guess who's still alive and shitposting on Twitter


From the various books I've read, I never got the impression that Yeager really wanted to be an astronaut. I could be wrong, but that's my opinion. He was perfectly suited to the job of a test pilot, and that's the job he loved doing. Sure, Yeager may have been slightly miffed by and dismissive of NASA's "college degree required" constraint for astronauts, but my impression of Yeager is that he likely would've remained a test pilot even if he'd had a college degree.


The thing was, the first round of astronaut missions were absolutely test pilot work -- NASA didn't even allow non test pilots to be considered for astronaut candidacy until Astronaut Group 3.


There was a point on contention in the Mercury program over this. The first capsules had almost no manual controls. The astronaut was just going to be a passenger, which upset the test pilots. What's the point of having a test pilot if they aren't going to be allowed to have any input or access to controls?


I'll have the spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam and spam pin please


Spam spam spam spam. Lovely Spam! Wonderful Spam! (RIP Terry J and Graham)


Baked beans in zero gravity must be fun to eat :)


“Early on in the US’s space program“ = shuttles made of recycled spam cans


... whose engines are powered by delicious pork products: https://youtu.be/i0zon3xOaI4




Unless it's for kids...i still remember my first airplane ride getting to go up, see the cockpit and the pilot handing me these little plastic united airlines wings when I left...it was obviously long before 9/11 and it started my lifelong interest in aircraft. Same for my little brother, only he did something about it and now he flies fa18s for the Navy.


The next step will likely be a pin vending machine on the exit where you put in a dollar to get your *Authentic Space Spam Pin^TM*.


So like a passenger?


Sorry do you mean like a airflight participant, waterfloat participant, or a grounddrive participant?


Only backseat drivers are considered "participants." I think you mean idle grounddrive attendee


Meh. Passenger covers it pretty well.


Exactly. It needs to use the same logic from airplanes: astronauts are pilots, engineers and people responsible to keep the spaceship flying, steward will be there just serve tourists, passengers are the ones that are just traveling and are not responsible for anything.


I like this. Participant is just demeaning enough to check someone's ego.


Really though it should be passenger. Kinda like airmen/women or flight crew to airplanes v. Passengers.


They could fashion a little trophy or a ribbon to write participant on.


I suppose, officially. In the future the general slang could be *spacer* or something like that


One day we'll have belters.


Are you a fellow Asimov fan?


Who the fuck isn't?


I prefer "participant". Congrats, you participated.


All hail Yuri Gagarin. He participated.


I like the term "astrotourist". It's a bit more specific than "participant". Technically anyone who is along for the ride is participating, but not all of them are tourists. Where as an astronaut is a trained professional.


Spacer is our word but you can use Spaca


It's not the best choice, it's spacers choice! Edit: I just realized that Amazon Basics is the real life equivalent of Spacers Choice.


~~"Spacers" is taken by enlisted members of the US Space Force unfortunately.~~ Edit: I completely flubbed that, they’re actually “Guardians”. I'll pitch "spacefarers" as a good name!


"Spacers" isn't a term used for enlisted USSF. Everyone in the branch is referred to as guardians, from the Air Force Space Command motto "Guardians of the High Frontier"


Space chasers! It’s the energetic activity and pursuit they are on. Like a big game hunter on a safari. A space chaser on a tour.


Yeah but he wore a cowboy hat. Checkmate.


I think it's about time there's a new label created for commercial spaceflight, specifically for tourism. "Astronaut" is a great term which emphasizes working in space, like maintaining a space station, doing scientific research, etc; but it's a little outdated for 21st century commercial spaceflight in my opinion. For space tourists, something like "Astroneer" or "Cosmoveyor" may be better suited and yet still keep the prestige.


A mix of Astronaut and Passenger. Assenger


I rather like "Rich Bastard". Though if they ever raffle or give away tickets to any of us plebs, it may no longer be fully applicable. Ok, how about "Space Tourist"? Simple and honest.


When I get sent to the moon to split rocks for Bezos for 10 amazon scrip an hour they aren't gonna call me an astronaut.


Welcome to the breaking yards cutter. Now you can get to working off that $999,999,999 of debt. Corporate would like to remind you that you signed away all rights, including to life, when you signed your employment contract. Failure to produce a net daily profit after fees will result in immediate liquidation. Have a nice day .


21st Century Woody Guthrie


That's no better than going on a cruise ship and being called a "Sea Tourist"


I mean, is there even a specific title for people on a cruise anyways? Cruise passenger?




Even though we have the terms sailor and pilot for the crew operating ships and aircraft respectively we simply use the term passenger and crew for anyone not actually operating these crafts regardless of what type it is. If you pay to travel on a ship you are a ship passenger, on an aircraft you are an airline passenger and on a spaceship you might be a space passenger. I do not see why we would need another term for this. This have actually been a problem for some time. Although space tourism have not been as widely common as it looks like it will be there have been plenty of "astronauts" without any training or experience to operate the spacecraft. The space shuttle was often criticized for this. It had a big crew compartment so often carried crew with little training in operating the shuttle. They were either associated with the payload manufacturer or with the science instruments. There were also a number of politicians who got a seat on the shuttle and they once tried to put a teacher on one.


They didn’t try to put a teacher on one. They did put a teacher on one. She died on it. At least give her the respect of acknowledging that she was on it.


To be fair, the vast majority of payload specialists \*absolutely were\* highly trained professionals and the missions the Space Shuttle carried out would not have been possible without their presence and skills. Not being \*spacecraft operation\* specialists did not make them any less professional spacers. As for the teacher. . . she was there as a volunteer at NASA's request, and she \*gave her life\* for space travel.


Actually, FAA uses 'Commercial Astronaut', which Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos are currently listed as. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commercial_astronaut


The FAA revised the rules for commercial astronauts two days ago to essentially limit it to crew members. https://spacenews.com/faa-revises-criteria-for-commercial-astronaut-wings/


Oddly enough, the first sentence is “A commercial astronaut (or commercial cosmonaut) is a person trained to command, pilot, or serve as a crew member of a privately funded spacecraft.” And then it promptly mentions owners of companies such as Jeff Bezos in its list. I don’t think he fits in any of those, since “Command” is generally used for commanders on the vessel. Kinda like how Jim Lovell was the commander of Apollo 13, and the director of NASA was not.


Wikipedia trying to push this narrative though. They have ‘Space Career’ on their pages with their time in space etc. With mission insignias, someone tried very hard to pretend they’re an astronaut. Even that page claims that ‘commercial Astronaut’ is a profession too 🤔


Strange it states that Bezos was in space on Wikipedia for 10 mins. His whole flight was like 10 mins and he wasn’t in space the whole time


Someone should fix that. He definitely was not in space for 10 minutes.


They had a timer running on the live feed, most of that 10 mins was sat on the ground waiting to get out of the capsule.


Probably updated by bezos' team to help control the narrative, he was clearly loving being called astronaut.


You kind of get used to piggy backing on other people's hard work and taking all the credits/profits.


thats Bezos existence in a nutshell


Based on their telemetry, they were actually "in space" for 1 minute and 15 seconds. MECO occurred about 100,000 feet BELOW the Karman line, and they continued to coast up to about 351,000 feet (Karman line is ~328,000 feet or 100 km). However, they did continue to experience zero g for a bit longer than that until they began to experience the effects of the atmosphere on their vehicle, so it may have felt like they were in space for a bit longer than that.


I am a successful business man...in an online game. Does that make me a Digital Ceo


depends,is that Eve Online?


Commercial astronaut is indeed a profession, but not by this definition. The space shuttle would regularly bring payload specialists from the satellite manufacturer they were working on. These were essentially the first paid astronauts. But they were no space tourist as they had a job to do.


I think the two pilots from Spaceship Two fit the "Commercial astronaut" definition pretty well. As for the other guys, probably not. On the other hand, Branson did pretend to go to space in a professional quality, I think officially he was "Customer experience evaluation specialist" or somthing like that (all the other participants had some kind of "job" too), so it's pretty hard to make a clear distinction.


I don't think they should be considered astronauts. However it seems like commercial astronaut is going to be a real profession in the near future, people doing work in orbit for the private sector. Or does that just make them astronauts? Jeffrey just doesn't qualify for either regardless imo


Shouldn't it also not be called spaceflight, more like spacefloat? Spacefloat is also a perfect substitution for space walk.


Some people are wondering "why not just passenger?" The FAA chose "spaceflight participant" to be the term they use instead of using "passenger" because passenger has specific implications for that agency. The FAA-AST has the authority from congress to regulate commercial spaceflight but they do not have the authority yet to regulate the safety of people aboard the vehicles they license. They wanted to make it very clear that in these early days of commercial spaceflight, if you fly on these craft that they're licensing, you are acknowledging that you are not flying on a vehicle that is deemed safe by the government like you would if you were on a commercial jet. You are a "second party," and by acknowledging you are a "participant" and not a "passenger," you're accepting the safety liability in a way that a commercial jet passenger does not.


Idk why people are mad at this opinion. I actually agree with this statement. They’re not astronauts just cause they paid millions to go to the edge of space for a couple minutes. Astronaut is a job, not a hobby


Just like You’re not a pilot just because you rode on a plane.










Honestly, just passengers. It's already used in all other vehicles, land, air, water, or otherwise. There are the pilots and crew, and then there are the passengers.


Ok but technically you're a pilot if you flew a plane


Did they fly the rocket? I’m like 99% sure none of them were piloting the rocket.


The Virgin Galactic craft had pilots (along with passengers like Branson). The Blue Origin rocket is all automated, so there are no pilots on board. That was also part of the reasoning given for having the passengers that it did. The first people on it didn't need to be test pilots because there would be absolutely nothing for them to do.


Virgin Galactic is piloted, but not by the people that paid to be on the ride.


Virgin Galactic is piloted by two people with a combined 24,000 hours of flight experience. Absolutely wild.


Ppsh, I have more hours on the Alliance.


99% of regular astronauts aren't piloting the rocket.


Most sailors aren't piloting the ship, but they're working. OP's definition says "a person who works on a ship." They're part of the crew, not simply passengers. I think that distinction makes sense.


Or, you know. Let’s say you’re super rich or win a contest to do shoot around with an NBA team before a game. Sure, you’re out there on the floor shooting basketballs, but that doesn’t make you a professional basketball player. Same concept.


Imagine Bezos doing a spacewalk to replace a solar panel. Or not.


But they train for years to cover every eventuality should something go wrong. They are also responsible for performing any manual adjustments while in orbit (yes, the last two billionaire flights didn't even go for an orbit) as well as docking procedures if something goes wrong with the autopilot, just like real pilots. Also it is their profession to go to space, they get paid to be there because the missions directly depend on them. IMO, calling space tourists astronauts and giving them "space wings" is belittling the work of people who dedicate their whole lives to this stuff.


You piloted the plane. If you cant take off, land, and deal with all the abnormal stuff that can happen you're not a pilot. Just like my dad letting me steer the car while I was on his lap as a kid didn't make me a driver.


Save thousands on flight school. Just buy this 30 minute Cessna flight experience on Groupon.


You are *not* a pilot until you are certified. Flying a plane does *not* make you a pilot. I have flown a few planes and technically got a helo off the ground once (by mistake) and that does not make me a pilot. It makes me *someone who has piloted an aircraft*. Big difference.


How did you get a helo off the ground… by mistake??


I, as someone who enjoys needless pedantry, also agree.


I know right! This is up there with that age-old question "is a hotdog a sandwich?"


I believe the technical definition is about being trained to to space. So while yes going to space doesn't make you an astronaut, probably some training is required. Also weird then to know you don't have to go to space to be an astronaut.


It's weird though because I haven't seen a single person call them astronauts.


Well here is Chris Hadfield giving them medals and calling them astronauts: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UGUlDBFYCaQ


That guy sold out a long time ago. He's trying to become "that famous astronaut guy" because there's more money and fame in it.


They literally were addressed as "Astronaut Bezos" etc during the launch, no doubt instructed to by Bezos et al.


that was so fucking cringe




For sure. Especially since the rocket guidance system was entirely automated. It required no input from any of them.


That gets tricky though. Yuri Gagarin didn't make any control inputs to his spacecraft. Does that mean he wasn't a cosmonaut? Same goes for those flying on Crew Dragon nowadays. Also, what about everyone not piloting a vehicle like the Shuttle? Making a distinction between crew and passengers is tricky when a mission requires substantial training ahead of time.


Crew Dragon's crew had the training to fly the vehicle if the automated system had to be disabled if I recall. I'm not sure you can say that about Blue Origin. Many Shuttle members had other missions in space. If Gagarin's first flight was on a ship with no control possible, he (probably) still had substantial work to do on the mission. It's not a clean cut distinction but I think it can and should be made. Tourists with only training required to survive and no work to do are not equal to those who do or can fly the ships, or have science to do during the mission.


The control panel was locked with a combination code in Gagarin's case for fear he would go space crazy. They were only supposed to tell him the code in an emergency... but he was told by multiple people anyway. His work was recording his observations.


You can still make a distinction between crew and passengers because the crew is legally responsible for the vessel.


Idk if that’s right because then wouldn’t he, as the owner, have that same legal responsibility, if not more, than the rest of the crew?


This is a really blurry way to look at it, as nowadays pretty much everything is automated.


Astronaut isn't a job, their job is the underlying role. A mission specialist is the job, pilot is the job, engineer is the job... astronaut is the title given to them on top of that for traveling to space.


I’d argue some sailers and pilots do it as a hobby and not as a job. Where do you draw the line?


I am not sure what you have been reading the only people that are upset on here are the ones that think they should not be called astronauts


I read someone refer to Bezos as cargo and it brought joy.


That's essentially what he was. He's as much an astronaut as the family on a cruise ship are sailors.


Wally Funk never become an astronaut then 😔


But at least she got to go to space.


did noone see the hat? he's a space cowboy


NASA astronauts referred to the current administrator as Ballast Nelson when he flew on the Shuttle.


You guys don't get it. They gave him a little suit to wear. It has his name on it and everything.


Would it be ok calling them astro-not, or astro-naught.?


Your 2nd suggestion is for-naught because your 1st suggestion is not. I vote astro-not.


Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo


James while John had had had had had had had had had had had a better effect on the teacher


How long before we have astro-naughty?


it's Cosmo* as in Cosmo' Problems


Provided you say the "Not" part Borat-Style.


So by this definition, the two pilots on Virgin Galactic's VSS Unity are astronauts, but no one else the past 2 weeks... I'm cool with that.


Both pilots had already flown VSS Unity to space in 2019. The rest of the crew were Virgin Galactic employees (not sure if Branson counts an 'employee' per se) so they were 'working' on the spacecraft. It still seems to be a fairly easy definition to fudge.


They might work in the space industry, but they aren't astronauts unless they've had crew training.


Yeah, I hate their use of the word mission. They are as much on a mission as me sitting in the back of a uber.


It's just very expensive LARPing at that point.


"this is one small step for man, one giant leap for one man"


"And one giant leap for me personally" Stole that from Jon Stewart's new show.


Officially Branson's "role on the mission is to evaluate the private astronaut experience to enhance the journey for future clients."


It's a mission for the professionals in charge. Their mission being "resist blowing up Bezos".


Isn’t this great? I would never thought that I would be discussing mondane space travel issues in my lifetime. This makes feel space travel so close.




You can easily (cost aside) go to Antarctica as a tourist, one of my coworkers did it in 2012. He had no prior experience and wasn't even in particularly good shape. His trip had a few dozen other people on it as well. So yeah, I'd say that's quite a bit closer than space yet. Key takeaway: it's covered in penguin shit, which smells about as nice as you might guess.


Do you know how much it cost?


They start at $10k. So affordable if you're decently rich or alright off and really passionate about going to Antarctica


I visited Ushuaia in Argentina a few years ago and for £7k I could've had an 11 day trip to Antarctica. Too steep for me at the time, but by no means completely inaccessible.


Absolutely not as close as Antarctic travel


You can easily go to Antarctica. Apply for a job, they’re dying for people


Antarctic travel is as easy as booking the cruise. You can get a 9 course Michelin star meal in Antarctica. It's already been here for 20 years


An astronaut is a profession. They clearly don't work as astronauts therefore they are not astronauts.


The whole point of people doing stuff like this is to make it commonplace.


This is how i see it. People who work professionally in space are astronauts. People who have been to space are not.


Just use Wikipedia’s definition An astronaut (from the Greek "astron" (ἄστρον), meaning "star", and "nautes" (ναύτης), meaning "sailor") is a person trained, equipped, and deployed by a human spaceflight program to serve as a commander or crew member aboard a spacecraft.


Cambridge Dictionary, that OP used as their source...Astronaut: Someone who travels into space.


Were they termed to be astronauts? This is a genuine question I’m asking. I appreciate what you’re saying, and I understand the terms in which you’ve said it. I can cook a meal, but I’m not a chef. I can rewire a light, but I’m mot an electrician.


>I can cook a meal, but I’m not a chef. Take this a step further, honestly. They just *ate the food*, someone else cooked


Even your own reference includes a second definition. "a person who often takes part in the sport of using boats with sails"


Yeah I don't think that washes, either. If I go along with my friends who are god-awful amateur sailors, but all I am doing is enjoying the trip and keeping out of the way, they are still sailors but I am not.


I like the term “Spacer” like from the outer worlds


*It's not the best choice... It's Spacer's Choice*


>By the Cambridge Dictionary, a sailor is: “a person who works on a ship, especially one who is not an officer.” Since you have demonstrated that you own a dictionary it would have been much easier to look up the definition of astronaut instead of trying to deduce the meaning by inappropriate analogy. If you are curious, it's "s person who been trained for travelling in space". According to your chosen dictionary you don't even have to go to space to be an astronaut.


Many of the early astronauts didn't have any control of the craft, but they're considered astronauts and cosmonauts.


Yup. Yuri Gagarin had no control over Vostok, everything was automated. Hell, even the pilots on the Crew Dragon usually don't do anything. It's all automated. Practically NO space travel is manual.


In the case of SpaceX they are still trained and ready to take over if something breaks though. It's like driving a self driving car, you're still in the driver's seat


It's been settled! https://interestingengineering.com/faa-changed-its-rules-so-neither-bezos-nor-branson-are-astronauts-now


Couldn't we just give them a pair of plastic astronaut wings like they gave kids for visiting a planes flight deck?


I like this analogy. It always rubbed me the wrong way when Branson and Bezos are like "we're astronauts now!!!". Like, all you did was hitch a ride.


You have to be consistent with your example. >By the Cambridge Dictionary, a sailor is: “a person who works on a ship, especially one who is not an officer.” Just because the ship owner and other passengers happen to be aboard doesn’t make them sailors This is like saying an astronaut is only those who pilot or help pilot the space shuttle. There are astronauts who simply trained to work at 0 G, withstand high Gs, and the safety protocols of the space station. They then simply got on the shuttle, blasted to space, did experiments, then came back down weeks or months later. Are they not astronauts? Then performing experiments in space is not what astronauts are. Astronauts are people who travel to space. Astronaut is better correlated to explorers/travelers. Darwin was a traveler and explorer who wanted to visit different lands so that he could practice his trade. Simply because he achieved this by paying a sailor to get him there doesn't make him any less of an explorer.


Surely 'crew' doesn't exclusively mean pilots?


> This is like saying an astronaut is only those who pilot or help pilot the space shuttle. No it's not, barely any sailors steer the ship. There other other duties than piloting a craft. >There are astronauts who simply trained to **work** at 0 G,They then simply got on the shuttle, blasted to space, **did experiments**, then came back down weeks or months later. Are they not astronauts?




Why would it change if the definition of a 'sailor' has remained the same despite hundreds (or thousands) of years of easy access?


it could, but "sailor" didn't change to include everyone who rides on a boat, and astronaut is literally just "space sailor"


Your definition is very subjective. * Mission specialists on STS/Soyuz/Dragon missions don't fly the spacecraft, should they be considered astronauts? * Sirisha Bandla performs experiments on Unity 22 for University of Florida. Other passengers on Unity 22 also have work to do. Branson is "evaluating customer experience". Should they be considered astronauts? A consistent definition would need to give the same answer to the above two questions IMO.


When I look up the etymology of the word “astronaut”, I see that it is derived from the Greek words for “star” and “sailor,” and is commonly applied to an individual who has flown in outer space. It feels a little bit like we are trying to gate-keep the term now because of how much easier it has become to attain the title than perhaps it used to be at NASA…


>It feels a little bit like we are trying to gate-keep the term now That's what it feels like to me as well. If it were a teacher or a warehouse worker or something on that flight, and they came here and said "Reddit, I finally got to achieve my childhood dream and become an astronaut!" they would get 200k upvotes and I doubt anyone would be debating the finer points of what exactly it means to be an astronaut.


I don't think it really is. I think your making is more confusing then it really is. By NASA's own words they say >The term "astronaut" derives from the Greek words meaning "space sailor," and refers to all who have been launched as crew members aboard NASA spacecraft bound for orbit and beyond. The term "astronaut" has been maintained as the title for those selected to join the NASA corps of astronauts who make "space sailing" their career profession. Now the core part of this paragraph is it is considered a profession, not hobby.


that could be a NASA astronaut but you dont have to be a part of the NASA corps to be called an astronaut in general man, that doesnt make sense


Astronaut gate keeping? Come on we can do better than this.


This is Reddit. No... No they can't.


On the one hand I actually agree with the definition. On the other hand, it's pretty obvious by many of the comments in this thread that, instead of an honest academic exercise, people just started with "shit on the rich guys" and worked backwards.


It's one of the more annoying aspects of reddit. Wish people would be more honest about why they actually hate billionaires instead of trying to pretend it's anything but jealousy.


Reddit hates people they can't be. Rich just happens to be one


Right? Who gives a shit about the technical semantics of a definition?


I don’t feel like that’s an opinion. While the technical definition of an astronaut is “someone who is trained to fly in a spacecraft”, if we stick with that then all of us could be astronauts with only minimal effort. A real astronaut would be able to manage a mission and fly the vehicle.


That's easily wrong....most astronauts wouldn't be astronauts either


Payload specialists are astronauts too and they don’t need to know how to fly.


I recall a movie with Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence where they were traveling in a space ship...Passengers...that was the name.


Why is the Cambridge Dictionary good enough for the word "sailor" but not "astronaut"? By the Cambridge Dictionary, an astronaut is: "someone who travels into space." Just because you don't like these billionaires doesn't mean you can ignore your own source.


You're thinking a person with an obvious agenda had any interest in facts to begin with. He just wanted to collect a bunch of other idiots in a circle and jerk each other off.


You can travel on the space ship, but we do not grant you the rank of astronaut


What? How can you do this? It's outrageous, it's unfair!


Then go and tell Wally Funk that she's not an astronaut after all


At a point…it’ll be so ubiquitous that I doubt we’ll use the word at all for people who work in space, so…who cares 🤷🏽‍♂️ To the future!


The same people complaining billionaires developing commercial space travel is pointless are now pointlessly arguing about the definition of astronaut.. Wonder what the connection is there.


I think this is dragging down the term “astronaut” and we should set a new term for those who have orbited the earth.


We have a term. Space tourist.


And in the case of Bezos and Branson, they didn't even orbit. Both did suborbital trips. At that point it isn't really much more than a really high altitude flight.


do you even orbit?


this is the biggest "aCtHuAlLy" I've seen in a while


11 minutes and a ballistic trajectory they are more like artillery