Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin Accused of Toxic Culture and Safety Issues

Former and present workers at Blue Origin, the rocket firm began by Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and one of the richest individuals on this planet, say the corporate is rife with sexism, illiberal of workers who dare to contradict their bosses and lax on security.

The claims, together with costs of sexual harassment by firm executives, had been put ahead in an essay written by 21 workers and former workers and published Thursday on the website Lioness. Just one former worker recognized herself. The essay additionally urged that there have been security issues about New Shepard, the car that flew Mr. Bezos and three different passengers to the sting of house in July.

“Within the opinion of an engineer who has signed on to this essay, ‘Blue Origin has been fortunate that nothing has occurred thus far,’” the essay writers mentioned. “Many of this essay’s authors say they’d not fly on a Blue Origin car.”

The following New Shepard flight is scheduled for Oct. 12, and one of its 4 paying passengers mentioned his plans had not modified.

“I’m assured in Blue Origin’s security program, spacecraft, and monitor document, and definitely wouldn’t be flying with them if I wasn’t,” Glen de Vries, vice chair of life sciences and well being care on the French software program firm Dassault Systèmes, mentioned in a message through Twitter. “I’ve been to the launch web site, met individuals at each degree of the corporate, and every little thing I’ve seen was indicative of a fantastic crew and tradition.”

The opposite introduced passenger, Chris Boshuizen, a co-founder of Planet Labs, a satellite tv for pc operator, didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Alexandra Abrams, the essay author who spoke publicly, is a former head of worker communications at Blue Origin. She was fired from the corporate in 2019. She additionally appeared on “CBS Mornings” on Thursday.

“You can not create a tradition of security and a tradition of worry on the identical time,” Ms. Abrams instructed CBS. “They’re incompatible.”

A press release from a Blue Origin spokesman mentioned Ms. Abrams had been fired for trigger in 2019 after repeated warnings for points involving federal export management rules. Ms. Abrams mentioned she had by no means obtained any warnings, verbal or written.

The corporate additionally disputed the tradition and security allegations.

“Blue Origin has no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any sort,” the spokesman mentioned. “We offer quite a few avenues for workers, together with a 24/7 nameless hotline, and will promptly examine any new claims of misconduct. We stand by our security document and imagine that New Shepard is the most secure house car ever designed or constructed.”

Mr. Bezos based Blue Origin in 2000. The corporate is a component of a wave of companies, together with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, that intention to decrease the price of launching rockets and opening house to non-public enterprise in addition to house vacationers.

It had its biggest achievement to this point in July: a profitable first flight of the New Shepard car with individuals aboard. That spacecraft is simply too small to enter orbit round Earth; as an alternative, it reaches greater than 60 miles off the bottom, providing a couple of minutes of weightlessness, and then falls again to Earth, slowed by parachutes. Along with the July flight, it has carried out 16 profitable launches with out individuals aboard.

However exterior of Mr. Bezos’ launch, Blue Origin has been mired in unflattering information for a lot of the remaining of this 12 months. Within the spring, the corporate didn’t win a contract from NASA to construct a lander to take astronauts again to the floor of the moon. Blue Origin appealed the choice to the federal Authorities Accountability Workplace and misplaced. It’s now suing NASA within the U.S. Courtroom of Federal Claims.

The website The Verge reported on Wednesday that NASA’s legal professionals had dismissed Blue Origin’s complaints.

“Realizing now that it gambled and misplaced, Blue Origin seeks to make use of GAO’s procurement oversight perform to improperly compel NASA to endure the results of Blue Origin’s ill-conceived decisions,” the legal professionals wrote in an inner report on Might 26.

The Lioness essay describes a poisonous, sexist tradition at Blue Origin. “Former and present workers have had experiences they might solely describe as dehumanizing, and are terrified of the potential penalties for talking out towards the wealthiest man on the planet,” the essay says.

The essay additionally says that firm officers at the moment are pushing to launch New Shepard at a breakneck fee of greater than 40 flights per 12 months and that sure operations are understaffed, posing security dangers.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates rocket launches to make sure the security of the general public, launched a press release saying that it was reviewing the knowledge within the essay, because it does with all security allegations.

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