How to Address an Astronaut

How to Address an Astronaut

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.

—-Envelope, letter’s address block on Email:
—-—-Mr./Ms. (Full Name)
—-—-(Address)

—-—-Dr. (Full Name)
—-—-(Address)

—-—-(Full Rank) (Full Name) (Post-nominal for Branch of Service)
—-—-(Address)

—-—-(Full Rank) (Full Name) (Post-nominal for Branch of Service), Retired
—-—-(Address)

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

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) As with a current astronaut, 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

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”

When Should You Use the Forms on this Page?

You can use these forms of address for any mode of communication: addressing a letter, invitation, card or Email. (If there are differences between the official and social forms of address, I will have mentioned the different forms.)  The form noted in the salutation is the same form you say when you say their name in conversation or when you greet them.

Not Finding Your Answer?

—-#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)  If you don’t see the official you seek included or 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, Sometimes I post the question  – but always change all the specifics.

— Robert Hickey 

Robert Hickey author of “Honor & Respect”