At the space company Blue Origin, headed by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, sexism is ignored, climate protection matters little and, above all, safety concerns are pushed aside. A group of almost exclusively anonymous employees and ex-employees criticized this in harsh words in an open letter. Many of the authors would not fly with the company’s space capsule, one person is quoted as saying: “Blue Origin is lucky that nothing has happened so far.” If the culture at Blue Origin is an example of the future Bezos is aiming for, then one is headed in a direction “which reflects the worst in the world in which we live”. A change of direction is urgently needed.
Toxic culture, dehumanizing experiences
Behind the open letter published on Lioness.co According to their own statement, there are 21 current and former employees of Blue Origin. Only Alexandra Abrams is named, who was responsible for employee communication at the company until 2019. Everyone describes themselves as space enthusiasts, but working at Blue Origin has therefore in some cases massively disillusioned them. A manager with decades of experience in the aviation industry speaks of the “worst experience of her life”. Others had suicidal thoughts after their passion for space was manipulated in such a “toxic environment”. In some cases, the authors have had inhumane experiences.
One of the most problematic points in the corporate culture of Blue Origin is certainly the above-mentioned fixation on the first space flight of company boss Jeff Bezos. One of the most frequently asked questions at executive level meetings was: “When does Elon fly [Musk] or [Richard] Branson? “The race with other billionaires seems to have been more important than security concerns, which could have led to delays. Given the manpower and resources, the pace of action was breakneck and security was neglected The letter’s writers are reminded of the Challenger disaster and some would not want to fly in Blue Origin’s space capsule.
Sexism and no thought about climate change
The letter also describes a sexist corporate culture that is actively supported by those responsible at the top of the company. Many have a clear preference against women, who would even be humiliated if they raised concerns about in-house technology. In addition, Blue Origin always claims publicly that it is working on a better world, but dealing with environmental and climate protection measures is a lie. As far as she knows, there are no concrete plans, CO2– to become neutral or to reduce the large ecological footprint.
The drastic formulations about inadequate safety now come only a few days before the next scheduled launch and come at a time of much bad press for the space company. Above all, it made no friends with the action against NASA’s decision to commission competitor SpaceX with the development of a lunar module. The picture drawn in the open letter of a company with a poisoned working atmosphere that is entirely geared towards the extravagant wishes of billionaire Bezos should not help. Blue Origin has already denied the allegations, claiming Abrams was fired after warnings of export control violations. The rocket “New Shepard is the safest spacecraft that has ever been built or developed,” it says.
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