How to Address an Astronaut

How to Address an Former Astronaut?

What is the proper way to address a former astronaut?  In California a former astronaut is running for Congress. Is he or is he not allowed to call himself ‘Astronaut (Name)’ in his campaign literature if he is not currently an astronaut?
– Brian K. in California

Dear Brian K.,

Promoting  yourself in a political campaign ‘Astronaut (Name)’ is odd, but I’d put it in the category as strange rather than breaking some rule.

—-#1) Being an astronaut is like being a chef, teacher, shepherd or lifeguard: it is a job one holds – in this case – held. None of these roles is formally used as a part of one’s name. In the media you will read and hear:

—-—-“Lifeguard Steve Thompson suggests …”

—-—-“According to Chef Neville there is a trend …”

—-—-“Football Coach Wilson says …”

—-Each of these is descriptive form – not formally a form of address.  All would be in writing ‘Mr./Ms. (Full Name)’ or orally ‘Mr./Ms. (Surname)’ in formal address.

—-#2) There is no personal rank granted and no special honorific used when directly addressing an astronaut.  A civilian astronaut is correctly addressed as ‘Mr./Ms./Dr. (Name)’ and identified as an astronaut after the name.  Many astronauts are or have been military officers and thus are addressed by rank in retirement.

—-#3) If you are looking for a precedent, Department of Defense (DoD) guidelines suggest it would be inappropriate for a retired officer to use his/her rank as part of his/her name in a campaign for public office. But that falls apart a bit because even a current astronaut was not formally addressed as ‘Astronaut (Name)’.

—-#4) If he’s no longer in the NASA program (which you seem to say he is not) perhaps most accurately he would be identified in writing or in an introduction as a ‘Mr./Ms./Dr. (Full Name)”, candidate for XYZ was a member of a NASA (name of mission) astronaut’.

– Robert Hickey

Not Finding Your Question Answered?

—-#1)  At right on desktops, at the bottom of every page on tablets and phones, is a list of all the offices, officials & topics covered on the site.

—-#2)  After checking the list and reading the posts, if you don’t see your question answered send me an e-mail. I am pretty fast at sending a reply: usually the next day or so (unless I am traveling.)  Note: I don’t have mailing or Email addresses for any of the officials and I don’t keep track of offices that exist only in history books.

—-#3)  If I think your question is of interest to others, I will post the question & answer – always changing the names and specifics.

— Robert Hickey

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