A gruesome essay written by nearly two dozen current and former Blue Origin employees paints a grim picture of the company’s working conditions and how the growing space competition among millionaires is compromising flight safety.
On July 20, 2021, Jeff Bezos, along with three other passengers, boarded a new Shepard rocket and flew 62 miles above sea level. The second millionaire To reach space. Blue Origin, a space company founded by Bezos, officially entered the space tourism business, joining Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, which is similar. Achievement Just a few weeks ago.
The flight outside the Kerman line was a major milestone for Blue Origin, but the cost of achieving this was substantial. Composition Painfully clear published in Lions. The article was written by Alexandra Abrams, the company’s former head of employee communications, and 20 other former and current Blue Origin employees.
The authors make some serious claims about the company’s work culture and how a pressure to increase the launch frequency of the new Shepard rocket “seriously compromises flight safety.” Many writers claimed that they would not fly in a Blue Origin car: “And no wonder – we’ve all seen how many times the teams stretched beyond reasonable limits,” they wrote.
The Federal Aviation Administration, noting the article, urges the regulator to review the Blue Origin xLola safety allegations, as reported by SpaceNews. Report. In an email to Gizmodo, the FAA said it “takes every security complaint seriously and the agency is reviewing the information.” Blue Origin may be asked to change if the review finds something to act on. Since 2016, there have been no problems on any of the New Shepard flights (as far as we know).
The ongoing sexual demands in the Blue Origin workplace were particularly worrying. Senior leaders have been “consistently inappropriate with women”, the authors complain, and have “clear bias against women,” who are repeatedly silenced when expressing concerns. As the authors write:
Concerns about the flying New Shepherd were consistently off and women were insulted for raising them. When one was left for a bad performance, he was allowed to leave with dignity, even a away party. Yet when a female leader who had significantly improved the functioning of her department was released, she was ordered to leave immediately, under security until she left the building five minutes later.
The authors describe toxic work environments where employees are pushed to their limits. Blue Origin has been openly modeling since SpaceX, with senior executives acknowledging that “burnouts were part of their labor strategy.” Working at Blue Origin can be “inhumane,” the authors wrote, with employees “terrified of the possible consequences of speaking out against the world’s richest man.”
It is not entirely surprising that a problematic work environment exists at Blue Origin. As we have done before Report, The company has faced emigration of high-ranking employees.
The “driving force” of this article, as mentioned by the authors, is related to the issue of security. Before the Bezos reached suborbital space, a common question at the high-level meeting was: “When will Elon or Branson fly?” As the authors claim, “making progress for Jeff” has been seen to take precedence over security concerns that will slow down the schedule. ” The issues raised in this article make it clear that the billionaire space race is much more real, not some false narrative falsified by the media.
Senior leaders, impatient for a few flights each year, began work on a target of 40 launches in 12 months, the authors claim. The launch cadence was really slow; The new Shepard flew three times in 2019, once in 2020 and four times in 2021, with the next launch scheduled for October 12. Security, “and, according to one engineer who contributed to this essay,” Blue Origin is lucky that nothing has happened so far. “A big complaint is that employees are being asked to work extra long hours and do things that are“ far more than double the size of a team can handle. ”The authors complain that senior leaders at Blue Origin are not providing the team with adequate resources.
“At a minimum, Jeff Bezos and the rest of the leadership at Blue Origin must be held accountable, and learn how to run a reputable, responsible company before they can allow their resources to be used transparently and consequently create a blueprint for the future of humanity.” Finished. “But beyond that, all of us collectively, urgently need to raise the question: should we as a society allow ego-driven individuals to build that future with unlimited cash and very little responsibility?”
We contacted Blue Origin for comment.
“According to a Microsoft Blue Origin spokesperson, Abrams was fired two years ago after repeated warnings about issues related to Federal Export Control regulations.” Blue Origin does not tolerate discrimination or harassment of any kind. We stand by our safety record and believe that the New Shepherd is by far the safest place designed or built. “
Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith sent an email to staff on Thursday to address the claims made in the article, as an insider. Report.
“It’s particularly difficult and painful for me to claim that we’ve been trying to identify our entire team in a way that doesn’t match the character and ability that I have at Blue Origin every day,” Smith wrote.
The CEO said the safety concerns raised in the article were “informed and simply wrong” and employees should come to him with their concerns, adding that Blue Origin does not tolerate harassment or discrimination in the workplace.
As mentioned, the next launch of the New Shepard is October 12th. In the system, with two unnamed passengers.