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NASA picks 8 new public relations figureheads, calls them astronauts.
To put it bluntly, NASA presently can’t put any astronauts into orbit, and might not be able to do ever again. Any astronauts on NASA’s payroll will thus likely have to beg a seat on a spacecraft built by others. Eventually, that begging won’t get them anywhere, which means that the work these new astronauts will mostly do will be to sell NASA to the public.
In the past, the PR work of astronauts only consumed a significant part of their time. For the present and probably in the future, it will be the only work they do.
Which makes me question the need to hire these astronauts in the first place. If I had my druthers and ran NASA, I’d rather wait until I actually need some astronauts and then hire the pilots who are flying SpaceShipTwo.