Blue Origin puts safety in the backseat, say workers – TechCrunch
Hello, readers: Welcome Max Q. First, an introduction: I’m Aria Alamalhodaei, the resident space and transportation reporter here at TechCrunch. I will be taking over Darrell Etherington’s Max Q newsletter for the next few months.
Bezos’ work problems
Jeff Bezos is back in the news this week, this time amid allegations of a hostile work environment and lack of attention to safety from 21 current and former employees of his space company. , Blue Origin. The news couldn’t come at a worse time for the company, which is currently mired in a lawsuit against NASA over its decision to award a lunar lander contract to rival SpaceX.
The essay co-authored by the employees paints a vivid picture of Blue Origin’s work culture as marred by sexual harassment, in which professional disagreements are hushed up, environmental concerns are ignored and speed of execution premium on human security.
Blue Origin disputed the sexual harassment allegations in a comment to TechCrunch, but they did not respond to a follow-up investigation regarding safety and whether the company inserted stifling no-denigration clauses in employee contracts.
TechCrunch spoke to the letter’s only named author, Alexandra Abrams, who said she decided to go public with her identity because she felt responsible for other employees.
âI really felt like I compromised my integrity at Blue Origin,â she said. “I did my best, but I was Bob’s executive communicator and helped make him look good.”
It is hard to imagine how this essay could not affect the results of Blue Origin. After the successful launch of New Shepard in July, in which Bezos and three others went to space on an 11-minute flight, the company intends to start welcoming more paying customers on the flights.
The situation became even more difficult when the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed to TechCrunch that “the agency is reviewing the information” in the test. âThe FAA takes every safety claim seriously. “
While Abrams confirmed that the FAA had not contacted her yet, she said she “would be very happy” with that.
âI feel like I’m filling out my job description as employee communication for the first time. “
US Space Force awards funding for next-generation rocket development
The US Space Force has granted $ 87.5 million in group funding to SpaceX, Blue Origin, Rocket Lab and United Launch Alliance for projects related to next-generation rocket engine testing and top-stage upgrades , including the mysterious Rocket Lab neutron rocket and the one from Blue Origin. New Glenn heavy launcher.
SpaceX and ULA are already established launch providers for the U.S. government as part of the Space Force’s National Security Space Launch Program. Rocket Lab and Blue Origin will be able to compete for the next round of launch supply contracts in 2024, and contracts like these are signs the two companies are preparing to do so.
Blue Origin’s next manifesto
One final story related to Blue Origin this weekâ¦ the company has announced the next two people who will take a ride on the New Shepard rocket: Dr. Chris Boshuizen, co-founder of Planet Labs and current partner of venture capital firm DCVC ; and Glen de Vries, co-founder of clinical trial software company Medidata Solutions.
The flight is scheduled to take off on Tuesday, October 12 at 9:30 a.m. EST from Blue Origin’s sprawling Launch Site 1, just outside of Van Horn, TX. The company has not disclosed details regarding the identity of the two remaining crew members, but we will certainly stay tuned. (Read our story on Blue’s first crewed launch here.)
Orbital servicing start-up raises $ 7 million
Orbiting satellite services company Starfish Space has raised $ 7 million to accelerate development of its “space tug” Otter, a spacecraft that the company says will be able to clean up orbital debris and extend the life of it. useful life of satellites in geostationary orbit. Longer term, Starfish even claims the space tug could be used as autonomous robots in orbit for a whole range of purposes related to the future space economy, including mining, manufacturing and recycling.
$ 300 million satellite manufacturing plant for Florida’s Space Coast
The economy of Florida’s space coast received a major boost this week when it was announced that subcontractor Terran Orbital would build a $ 300 million satellite manufacturing plant at Kennedy Space Center. The 660,000-square-foot facility will be the largest in the world, according to the company, and that’s not too hard to believe, given the expected production: 1,000 complete satellites and over a million satellite components. per year.
Join us at the TC sessions: Espace in December
Last year, we hosted our first space event, and it went so well that we decided to host it again in 2021. This year, it’s December 14th and 15th, and it will be a fully virtual conference again, so people from all over the world will be able to join us – and you can too.