Link here. Up to now the word “astronaut” has generally been applied to anyone who has flown in space, though its use for the previous space tourists has generally seemed inappropriate.
The arrival this fall of regularly and frequent commercial flights carrying private passengers into space raises the question: What do we call these individuals? Some, such as the companies Axiom and Blue Origin, want to call them astronauts. Others, such as previous space tourists Richard Garriott and former senator and now NASA administrator Bill Nelson, think that word should be reserved for the professionals. Think for example of aviation. You don’t get wings by simply flying on a commercial jet. You have to fly a plane yourself, and do it solo to earn that designation.
In truth, the most likely thing that will happen in the future is that no future space traveler will be called an astronaut. As the article notes correctly,
It might be necessary to retire the term altogether once hundreds if not thousands reach space, noted Fordham University history professor Asif Siddiqi, the author of several space books. “Are we going to call each and every one of them astronauts?”
The term is going to become historical, referring not to those who have reached space, but to those early pioneers to made it possible for everyone else. It carries too much special meaning to assign it to every Tom, Dick, or Harry who simply bought a ticket. It signifies a person who did something special and at great risk, and deserves a special honor because of it.
Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin were astronauts. It seems wrong to call every commercial passenger who follows the same.
Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!
From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space
, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.
does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.
“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.
All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.
Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.