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Astronaut Badge

From Academic Kids

An Astronaut Badge is a military badge of the United States, awarded to military aviation pilots who have completed Astronaut training with NASA and performed a successful space flight. Most such aviators are also former test pilots. A variation of the Astronaut badge is also issued to civilians who are employed with NASA as specialists on space flight missions.

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Military Badge

Each of the military services issues its own version of the Astronaut Badge which comprises a standard Aviator's Badge with an Astronaut Device (shooting star through a halo) centered on the badge's center. The United States Army and Air Force Astronaut Badges are issued in three degrees, those being basic, senior, and master. The Senior Astronaut Badge is denoted by a star centered above the decoration while the master level is indicated by a star and wreath.

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United States Army

The Astronaut Badge issued by the U.S. Army is awarded in three levels, being that of Basic, Senior, and Master. An Army astronaut may also receive a variation of the badge if training was completed but the astronaut never participated in a space mission. In such cases, the Army issues the Army Aviation Badge with Astronaut Device.

United States Air Force

Like the Army, the Air Force issues its astronaut badge in three degrees (basic, senior, and master). The Air Force Astronaut Badge consists of a standard Pilot's Badge, upon which is centered the Astronaut Device.

United States Navy

The Navy Astronaut Badge is issued in a single degree and consisted of a Naval Aviator Badge with a centered astronaut creast. The Navy also bestows the Naval Flight Officer Astronaut Badge for Naval Flight Officers who are qualified astronauts and serve in support roles on space missions.

United States Marines

United States Marine astronauts are issued the Navy Astronaut Badge upon completion of training and participation in a space flight. The Marine Corps refers to the badge by its Navy title. The badge is identical for both the Navy and the Marine Corps. Marine Corps Flight Officers are also eligable to receive the Naval Flight Officer Astronaut Badge.

United States Coast Guard

The Coast Guard Astronaut Badge is issued in a single degree in the same manner as the United States Navy. Unlike the Navy, however, the Coast Guard Astronaut Badge is of a different design and consists of an aviator badge centered atop crossed anchors and creasted by the astronaut device.

Civilian Badge

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The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has granted commercial astronaut wings to private pilots who have performed a successful space flight. NASA also has its own version of the Astronaut badge which is provided to civilian personnel who serve as mission specialists onboard U.S. space missions.

Astronaut Pin

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Gold Grade Astronaut Pin

In addition to the Astronaut Badge, which is worn on a military uniform, an Astronaut Pin is also issued to astronauts which is a small astronaut device worn as a lapel pin on their civilian suits. The pin is issued in two grades, being silver and gold, with the silver pin awarded to trainees who had successfully completed astronaut training and the gold pin to astronauts who had actually flown in space.

A unique astronaut pin was made for Chief Astronaut Deke Slayton in 1967. It was gold in color, but instead of the star, it had a small diamond in its place. It was made at the request of the crew of Apollo 1 as a tribute to Deke Slayton's work at NASA. The idea was that everyone in the Astronaut office had thought that Slayton would never get to fly in space (due to his heart murmur), but as they knew that it was primarily because of him that they managed to do so, he should wear a gold pin rather than a silver one as a token of appreciation. As they knew that Slayton would refuse to wear the exact same gold pin as veteran astronauts, the diamond was added. It was supposed to have been flown on board the Apollo 1 spacecraft when it was launched into space, then given to Slayton after the mission was over. However, the Apollo 1 crew died in the launch pad fire in January 1967. The pin was given to Slayton by the widows of the dead crew as a token of condolence. This diamond-studded gold pin was later flown to the moon on Apollo 11 in July 1969. Neil Armstrong took the pin on his historic moonwalk and left it there at Tranquillity Base.

Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean took his silver pin to the moon in November 1969 and left it on the lunar surface. He said later that since he had worn the silver pin for six years and that he'd be wearing a gold pin after the mission, he wouldn't be needing his silver one any more, so "what better place to leave it than on the moon?".

Qualifications

A military Astronaut must complete all required training to receive the badge, as well as participate in a space flight more than 50 miles above the Earth. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale defines spaceflight as over 100 km. This definition is followed by all countries except the U.S., which maintains the space boundary at 50 miles or 80 km.

Only ten pilots have qualified for the Astronaut Badge by flying an airplane into space: eight from the U.S. Air Force/NASA X-15 program, plus Brian Binnie and Mike Melvill from the Scaled Composites Tier One project. All other persons have been awarded the Astronaut Badge by traveling into space on rocket boosters, rather than in aerodynamic flight.

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