Astronaut wings being phased out, “too many people going to space” says FAA

Dec 13, 2021, 6:52 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2021, 12:36 pm
astronaut pins...
March, 1962: Marine Corps Lieut. Col. John H. Glenn, Jr., the only Marine in the astronaut program at this time, looks at the Marine Corps astronaut insigns awarded him, March 9, 1962 in Washington. He also received the Navy's astronaut wings, which he wears below his service ribbon decorations at right. The wings work above the service ribbons are his naval aviation wings. At left is Gen. David Shoup, Marine Corps commander. (AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

This is an editorial piece. An editorial, like a news article, is based on fact but also shares opinions. The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and are not associated with our newsroom. 

Back in the day, any time any American went into space they’d get their wings. Astronaut wings. A gold pin that signified they’d flown more than 50 miles up and came 50 miles down.

But no more.

Last week, the Federal Aviation Administration announced they’re retiring the practice. And guess who’s among the last humans to be awarded their wings?

Jeff Bezos. Who flew to space in a cloud of controversy over the altitude his rocket reached (and whether it was really space). Scientists sneered about his sneeze of a trip saying, “that’s not space.”

And you can almost hear Bezos throwing a fit like a 7-year-old. ‘I want my wings. I want my wings.’

Well. What the second richest man in the world wants he gets. The New York Times reports the FAA decided to give Bezos his wings. And they said they’d award them to anybody who flew 50 miles up through the end of this year.

But it didn’t matter! When he blasted off in July, Bezos had his own homemade astronaut pin ready and waiting. And as soon as his ship landed, 11 minutes after launch, an ex-NASA astronaut, a real astronaut, pinned Bezos’ wings on his chest.

The wings he had made for himself.

The ultimate participation trophy.

But wait! He’ll also get the real astronaut wings. And Richard Branson will get them. So will William Shatner. And, Michael Strahan who went to space over the weekend, he’ll get his, too.

But after that, the official Astronaut wings will flutter off into the sunset. They’re being retired. No more astronaut wings.

Yep, what the second richest man in the world wants he gets. Except to be the richest man in the world.

That’s locked down by Elon Musk. Who makes rocket ships but leaves flying to the astronauts.

Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News is heard on KSL NewsRadio weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m. And listen to Jeff Caplan’s Minute of News here:


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Astronaut wings being phased out, “too many people going to space” says FAA