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As New Space Race Beckons, Astronauts Face Identity Crisis

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With the private sector moving aggressively into space, NASA is no longer the only game in town for would-be space travelers.

So what will it mean to be astronauts tomorrow? They will soon look almost nothing like the men who walked on the moon. NASAs new lunar program, called Artemis, promises that moonwalkers will not all be men. And American astronauts will not necessarily even wear the blue meatball patch with NASA embroidered across it.
For would-be American space travelers, NASA is no longer the only game in town. The implications transcend the practical and reach deeply into American culture. And as with any job, the more people who do it, the less special it seems. Commercial airline pilots once held a sort of superstar status in the eyes of Americans. Pilots are no less impressive today, but quantity has diminished their prestige.
Similarly, the bravery of anyone willing to leave Earth on a rocket is unquestionable, but the exclusivity of the job will wane slowly, certainly, but inexorably. Nongovernment employees will soon leave Earth in nongovernment launch systems from nongovernment spaceports.
To an extent, we are inventing this as we go along, said Christopher Ferguson, who twice commanded space shuttles as a NASA astronaut.
He added, NASA, other space-faring nations and industry are going to have to come to terms with how non-NASA, noninternational astronauts are brought into the fold.(source)

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