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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

THE HAPPENING WORLD: Who Is an “Astronaut”?

First, it was “What is space?”, now it's who deserves to be called an “astronaut”. (I don't know why Blue Origin's marketing department hasn't seized on my suggestion to call those who fly on Branson's ride below the Kármán line “asterisknauts”.)

As Scott Manley observes, those who fly on vehicles operated by coercive governments, or even those in their employ who do have not yet flown, have been called “astronauts”, including politicians, such as the current NASA administrator, “Ballast Bill”, who went on a taxpayer-funded junket into space. I think the answer is to make the term “astronaut” one of derision, applied to civil service space cadets who have appropriated a noble title rightly belonging to genuine pioneers of space exploration. There's a parallel to this: nobody calls airline pilots or passengers “intrepid aeronauts” these days.

As for those who travel above the Kármán line today, how about “spacers” or, for those who see it as a New Age experience, “space cases”?

Posted at July 28, 2021 11:12