• Member Since 15th Feb, 2012
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totallynotabrony


More Blog Posts59

  • Thursday
    big blog this week, chew carefully

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    Tomo-chan Is a Girl!

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    6 comments · 120 views
  • 1 week
    Cutting Room

    I'm losing a lot of shows this week

    The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady

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    11 comments · 144 views
  • 2 weeks
    Season Second Episodes

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    Handyman Saitou in Another World

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    5 comments · 113 views
  • 3 weeks
    New 2023 anime part 2

    Handyman Saitou in Another World

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    13 comments · 157 views
  • 4 weeks
    New 2023 anime part 1

    I had intended to hold out until next week, but this blog was already getting long enough.

    Here's part one of the new shows that are premiering this week.


    The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady

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    5 comments · 189 views
Feb
23rd
2022

A Brief History of Commercial Astronauts · 11:22am Feb 23rd, 2022

Most astronauts are not highly paid considering the work they do - given that many are active duty military, I'd say most probably don't even make six figures.

But with a new space age upon us, we may now be living in a time where “astronaut” can be not only an aspiration, but potentially, a career.

What is a "commercial astronaut?" The definition is fuzzy, but is generally taken to mean someone who is performing a job in space for private interests and not a government agency. Space tourists also don't count.

The first non-government astronaut was a McDonnell Douglas engineer named Charlie Walker who first flew on the Space Shuttle in 1984 to operate some specialized equipment. However, despite not being assigned to NASA, he was still working on their behalf. I guess you could say he was the first astronaut contractor.

Several non-government (and non-tourist) civilians have been launched into space, but very few have done so without some form of government backing. For some examples, Japanese reporter Toyohiro Akiyama visited the Russian space station Mir in 1990. In 2021, Russian actress Yulia Peresild and a cameraman visited the International Space Station to shoot a movie. While it can be argued that they were in space to perform a job that was not in service of a government, all had to be sponsored in order to use government training, launch facilities, and other space infrastructure.

The first true, unambiguously private commercial astronaut was a South African named Mike Melvill who flew the American-built Scaled Composites SpaceShipOne briefly into space in 2004. Melvill was awarded the very first commercial astronaut wings by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The SpaceShipOne program was later bought by Virgin Galactic, who today employs most current commercial astronauts.

In 2021, SpaceX launched four astronauts to orbit on Inspiration 4, a mission entirely of their own, and remains to date the only multi-day private space mission.

The FAA stopped their Commercial Astronaut Wings program in 2021, due to the rapidly increasing number of applicants, and possibly related to people like Richard Branson and Jeff Bezos simply buying in to go on a joyride rather than actually performing a job in space.

To date, while not all commercial astronauts have been American, all commercial manned missions have launched from the US. It’s not difficult to foresee a not-so-distant future where SpaceX is regularly performing private missions, companies such as Blue Origin have caught up, and Chinese space companies have started up to offer competition.

It’s also possible to envision a future where NASA or even the DoD regularly hires astronaut contractors, either to fill manning gaps or to perform specialized missions. NASA has already predicted and offered seed money for private space stations to be built. Given timelines on when the International Space Station might be decommissioned in 2030, we could have commercial space stations by then, and someone is going to need to run them. Many colleges already offer aviation programs to teach people to be pilots, so I figure someone like Embry-Riddle or Purdue could eventually offer an astronaut curriculum.

The future's going to be wild.

Report totallynotabrony · 179 views ·
Comments ( 1 )

There was also Tito in 2001. But yeah, manned spaceflight looks like it's going to become very busy in the near-future.

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