Who’s an astronaut as private spaceflight picks up speed?

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CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — As more companies start selling tickets to space, a question looms: Who gets to call themselves an astronaut? It’s already a complicated issue and about to get more so as the wealthy snap up spacecraft seats. Some suggest a military-style pecking order like astronaut first class, second class but warn it could get complicated fast. Retired NASA astronaut Mike Mullane finds it a meaningless title until liftoff, regardless of whether you earn the spacecraft seat or buy it. He also points out that it isn’t a copyrighted word. So anybody can call themselves an astronaut whether they’ve gone to space or not. 

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