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After completing their respective space travel trips, it seems that Jeff Bezos and Sir Richard Branson can not name themselves a part of the astronaut clan just yet. 

After the US tightened its definition of the word "astronaut", the two billionaire space explorers may not yet be astronauts in the eyes of the US government. 

The latest Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules clearly stated that astronaut hopefuls must be part of the flight crew and make contributions to space flight safety. This was one of the first changes made to the rules since the FAA wings programme began in 2004.

On the same day that Bezos flew aboard his Blue Origin rocketed to the edge of space, the Commercial Astronaut Wings programme announced their updates regarding the rules. According to the FAA, to qualify as commercial astronauts, space-goers must travel 50 miles (80km) above the Earth's surface, which both Bezos and Branson accomplished. But altitude aside, they agency also revealed that would-be astronauts must also "demonstrated activities during flight that were essential to public safety, or contributed to human space flight safety", which, unfortunately, the pair did not do.

In a statement, the FAA said that these changes brought the wings scheme more in line with its role to protect public safety during commercial space flights.

Sir Richard flew on-board the Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo on 11 July to the edge of space as a test, before allowing customers aboard next year. However, Branson can’t just yet be labelled as an astronaut. 

However, Bezos and the three other crew members who flew on Blue Origin's spacecraft may have less claim to the coveted title as Blue Origin CEO, Bob Smith, stated ahead of the launch, that "there's really nothing for a crew member to do" on the autonomous vehicle.

As we all know, each fellow astronaut receives his commercial wings. Bezos and Richard were spotted with commercial wings after their flights, but these knock offs were custom-made pins made by their own companies, and not delivered by the FAA. Those wishing for commercial wings need to be nominated for them, and an FAA spokesperson told CNN that they are not currently reviewing any submissions. One can also earn your astronaut wings in the US through the military or Nasa.

However, a glimmer of hope remains for Sir Richard, Mr Bezos, and any future stargazers hoping to be recognised as astronauts.

The new order notes that honorary awards can be given based on merit – at the discretion of the FAA's associate administrator.

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