Amazon founder Jeff Bezos took a short trip to space last week — but according to the Federal Aviation Administration, he isn’t technically an astronaut.
The billionaire emerged from his Blue Origin spacecraft on Tuesday following an 11-minute trek that saw him reach the edge of outer space.
Asked by CBS News moments later if he wanted to “push deeper into the cosmos,” he responded with an enthusiastic, “Hell, yes!”
“Hell yes!”: Jeff Bezos tells CBS News’ Mark Strassmann that this morning’s successful Blue Origin flight will motivate him to push deeper into space. https://t.co/NTBGPuuMhx pic.twitter.com/FFBB2wjack
— CBS News (@CBSNews) July 20, 2021
Wearing a cowboy hat after having briefly achieved weightlessness, Bezos was every inch the entrepreneur-turned-astronaut.
Or was he?
Neither Bezos nor fellow billionaire space explorer Richard Branson is an astronaut in the eyes of the U.S. government — although Branson is close.
The Washington Post owner essentially rode shotgun in a self-operating vehicle and did nothing other than observe through a window with a group of friends.
The new FAA rules state that in order to be considered an astronaut, one must be part of the spaceflight crew or contribute to flight safety.
One is not labeled an astronaut simply for experiencing zero gravity.
Bezos, for now, is no Neil Armstrong, even if he did appear to enjoy himself.
If he had hoped to be classified alongside the legendary explorers of the final frontier, he would have been brought back down to Earth by the FAA. To those who hand out astronaut wings, he is little more than a guy in a cowboy hat with an extraterrestrial dream and a great deal of cash.
But with billions in the bank and one flight under his belt, Bezos might just be willing and able to meet the FAA requirements next time around.
Doing so would turn him from a wealthy joyrider into a real live astronaut.
But he is not there yet.
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