Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin accused of toxic culture and safety issues

Former and current employees of Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and one of the richest people i...


Former and current employees of Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and one of the richest people in the world, say the company is plagued by sexism, intolerant of people. employees who dare to contradict their bosses and lax about safety.

The allegations, including accusations of sexual harassment by company executives, were advanced in an essay written by 21 employees and former employees. and published Thursday on the Lioness website. Only one former employee identified herself. The test also suggested there were safety concerns about New Shepard, the vehicle that carried Mr Bezos and three other passengers to the edge of space in July.

“In the opinion of an engineer who signed this essay, ‘Blue Origin has been lucky that nothing has happened so far,” said the editors of the essay. “A lot of the authors of this essay say they wouldn’t fly a Blue Origin vehicle.”

New Shepard’s next flight is scheduled for October 12, and one of its four paying passengers said his plans haven’t changed.

“I’m confident in Blue Origin’s safety program, spacecraft and track record, and I certainly wouldn’t fly with them if I wasn’t,” Glen de Vries, vice president of life sciences and French healthcare software company Dassault Systèmes, said in a message via Twitter. “I went to the launch site, met people at all levels of the company, and everything I saw was indicative of a great team and culture.”

The other passenger announced, Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs, a satellite operator, did not respond to a request for comment.

Alexandra Abrams, the public speaking essayist, is a former employee communications manager at Blue Origin. She was fired from the company in 2019. She also appeared on “CBS Mornings” Thursday.

“You can’t create a culture of safety and a culture of fear at the same time,” Ms. Abrams told CBS. “They are incompatible.”

A statement from a spokesperson for Blue Origin said Ms Abrams was fired for cause in 2019 after repeated warnings over issues with federal export control regulations. Ms Abrams said she never received a warning, verbal or written.

The company also disputed the culture and safety claims.

“Blue Origin has no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind,” the spokesperson said. “We provide many opportunities for employees, including an anonymous 24/7 hotline, and will promptly investigate any new malpractice complaints. We maintain our safety record and believe New Shepard is the safest spacecraft ever designed or built. “

Mr. Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000. The company is part of a wave of companies, with SpaceX by Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic by Richard Branson, that aim to reduce the cost of launching rockets and open the space for private companies as well as space tourists. .

Its greatest achievement to date was in July: a successful first flight of the New Shepard vehicle with people on board. This spacecraft is too small to orbit the Earth; instead, it reaches over 60 miles from the ground, providing a few minutes of weightlessness, then falls back to Earth, slowed down by parachutes. In addition to the July flight, it made 16 successful launches without anyone on board.

But outside of Mr. Bezos’ launch, Blue Origin has been mired in unflattering news for much of the rest of this year. In the spring, the company failed to land a contract from NASA to build a lander to bring astronauts back to the moon’s surface. Blue Origin appealed the decision at the Federal Accountability Office and lost. He is now suing NASA in the United States Federal Claims Court.

The Verge website reported on Wednesday that NASA lawyers dismissed Blue Origin’s complaints.

“Realizing now that it has gambled and lost, Blue Origin seeks to use GAO’s purchasing oversight feature to unduly coerce NASA to suffer the consequences of Blue Origin’s ill-conceived choices,” the lawyers wrote in an internal report. May 26.

The Lioness essay describes a toxic and sexist culture at Blue Origin. “Former and current employees have had experiences that they can only describe as dehumanizing and are terrified of the potential consequences of speaking out against the richest man on the planet,” the essay says.

The trial also indicates that company officials are now pushing to launch New Shepard at a breakneck rate of more than 40 flights a year and that some operations are understaffed, posing security risks.

The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates rocket launches to ensure public safety, issued a statement saying it is reviewing the information in the test, as it does for all safety claims.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin accused of toxic culture and safety issues
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