Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos, Science, Technology, Space, Us Work & Careers

Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos

How did Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin fail to dominate the billionaire space race?

How did Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin fail to dominate the billionaire space race?

10/16/2021 7:41:00 PM

How did Jeff Bezos ’s Blue Origin fail to dominate the billionaire space race?

The company employs the world’s top engineers and has access to unlimited money but is plagued by safety concerns and toxic workplace culture

. Blue Origin has struggled to hit its stride producing its powerful BE-4 rocket engine and as a result the maiden launch of ULA’s Vulcan rocket has slipped to late 2022. This will make the first flight of the engine a fullfive years behind schedule.Meanwhile, the first flight of the company’s fabled New Glenn rocket, a heavy launch vehicle capable of hoisting nearly 100,000 pounds into low Earth orbit, has also been pushed to

late 2022at the earliest. It was originally meant to fly for the first time last year. Bezos didn’t even get the glory of being the first billionaire to ride his own rocket into space. Just two weeks before Bezos flew to the edge of space this summer,

Richard Branson completed a suborbital flightin his own spaceplane with Virgin Galactic.How did this happen? Blue Origin employs thousands of the world’s top rocket engineers. The company also has access to a virtually unlimited supply of money. Bezos, who is worth just south of $200bn, spends headtopics.com

$1bn a yearout of his own pocket to fund Blue Origin. By all measures, Blue Origin should be one of the most successful space companies in the world.“Blue Origin has all the ingredients for success and to become something truly fantastic,” said Ally Abrams, the former head of Blue Origin employee communications who recently wrote a

detailing safety concerns and rampant sexism at the company. “The engineers really believed that and they try every day to make that a reality despite the leadership’s interventions.”Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket blasts off near Van Horn, Texas, on Wednesday.

Photograph: Blue Origin/ReutersAccording to Abrams, Blue Origin’s troubles have both a technical and cultural dimension. On the technical side, Abrams said the company suffers from an immense amount of technical debt–engineering challenges that build up as a result of choosing a quick solution rather than the best solution – and a relentless focus on speed that undermined its ability to properly address problems with its launch vehicles. She explained the

exodus of top talentfrom Blue Origin as engineers who “got tired of putting Band-Aids on problems”.“Technical debt is a problem most companies have but at Blue it’s just on an incredible scale,” Abrams said. “It really failed to transition from an R&D company to a production company.” headtopics.com

Abrams partially attributes the mounting technical debt to Blue Origin’s increasing focus on speed, an irony for a company whose motto isGradatim Ferociter, the Latin rendering of “step by step, ferociously”. She traces the mounting pressure to move fast to 2017, when it was clear the company was failing to keep pace with its rivals at SpaceX. She said Bezos’s growing impatience with the pace of development was palpable, as was the “jealousy he seemed to have for the other billionaires who seemed to be making more progress than him”.

“The schedule was always a huge joke within the company,” Abrams said. “We’d put out the dates externally and employees would laugh because they knew that just wasn’t possible.”Plenty of engineers didn’t feel comfortable raising safety and quality concerns for fear of retaliation, which is a very scary thing when you’re working on a high risk, experimental vehicle.

Ally AbramsBut Blue Origin was racked by more than just engineering difficulties.In her essay, Abrams described a company where executives show “consistently inappropriate” behavior toward women and where “dissent is actively stifled”. According to Abrams, Blue Origin’s cultural problems started at the top and flowed down throughout the company. She said Blue Origin’s CEO, Bob Smith, who was tapped by Bezos to lead the company in 2017, repeatedly failed to listen to his employees’ concerns about the safety of the company’s vehicles and its toxic workplace culture.

“Bob Smith is one of the most incapable leaders I have ever encountered,” Abrams said. “Passion withers in his presence. Plenty of engineers didn’t feel comfortable raising safety and quality concerns for fear of retaliation, which is a very scary thing when you’re working on a high-risk, experimental vehicle.” headtopics.com

Abrams’ whistleblower essay was co-signed by 20 anonymous current and former Blue Origin employees. Many of its allegations were denied by the company.A statement from Blue Origin said the company had dismissed Abrams for “repeated warnings for issues involving federal export control regulations”, that the company has no tolerance for harassment or discrimination, and that it believes its New Shepard rocket is “the safest space vehicle ever designed or built”.

“It is particularly difficult and painful, for me, to hear claims being levied that attempt to characterize our entire team in a way that doesn’t align with the character and capability that I see at Blue Origin every day,” Smith wrote in anearlier this month. “As always, I welcome and encourage any member of Team Blue to speak directly with me if they have any concerns on any topic at any time.”

Still, Blue Origin employees continue to speak out. Earlier this week, aninvestigationby the Washington Post echoed the issues raised by Abrams and painted a picture of an organization riddled with distrust of its leadership, sexism and insufficient concern for the safety of its launch vehicles.

Looking to the future, the question for Blue Origin is whether it can overhaul its culture to deliver on its mission. Many observers, including Abrams, are skeptical. But perhaps a changeisimminent. Earlier this year, Bezos stepped down from his role as the CEO of Amazon and committed himself to spending more time focused on Blue Origin. Whether Bezos can reinvigorate the company’s culture with his grand vision for human space exploration and a sense of common purpose remains to be seen.

“There’s going to be a lot of work and a lot of healing to do if they can actually put a good leadership team in place that is committed to moving forward in a different way,” said Abrams. “I think it would still take years for the scar tissue to heal with the employees.”

The only thing that’s certain is Bezos will never have his colonies in space if he can’t build the rockets to get there – and that may be a problem that no amount of money can fix. Read more: The Guardian »

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Because the rest of the world cares about the world? Not two or three billionaire dickheads surrounded by evangelical nerds or sycophantic scientists who rely on their funding? It looks like a flying Penis Better question: Why does the Press call this a 'space race' like it's equal to landing on the moon? Billionaire 'astronauts'? They go up, they comes down and do nothing in between but geek out--what's that? ...Not an astronauts. That's just an amusement park enthusiast.

Because his is shaped like a giant penis … it’s very difficult to describe in media a penis shaped rocket was just thrust into space … way too phalic not PG …kinda matches his head though Richard Cranium 😁 Maybe because blue origin doesn't actually go to space. Cos his rocket looks like a whanger I need to make a plaque for the Church with these words, please help me with a donation, I thank you in the name of God's work. Preciso fazer uma placa para a Igreja com estas palavras, por favor ajude-me com uma doação, agradeço em nome da obra de Deus.

I would be much more impressed if Bezos was a patriot and agreed to pay all his taxes. world_news_eng Because the shape of his rocket is not fit for underage audience? No one is interested? I find myself asking myself this question all the time. Cheers Guardian for leading the way with the topics that matter

Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez indulge in PDA after Blue Origin flightAmazon tycoon Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez enjoy a VERY passionate public kiss on the streets of New York during romantic day out - amid furious criticism of his billionaire space race ewwww 🤢🤮 They are both disgusting 🤮

Jeff could make safer electric cars in China using sodium ion batteries. Because it barely goes to space, no orbit, no payload, no revenue stream…. It’s an expensive joyride, that’s it. The media is full of Elon Musk fanboys?

Meet Jeff Bezos' super brainy son and his mysterious adopted daughter Jeff Bezos owner of Amazon and Blue Origin , has four children with his ex wife MacKenzie Scott — here's everything we know about the secretive billionaire family

Meet Jeff Bezos' super brainy son and his mysterious adopted daughter Jeff Bezos owner of Amazon and Blue Origin , has four children with his ex wife MacKenzie Scott — here's everything we know about the secretive billionaire family

William Shatner, 90, details physical toll space took on his body ‘Can I endure this?’STAR TREK legend William Shatner has opened up about the physical toll space took on his body following his successful expedition with Jeff Bezos ' Blue Origin Crew.

Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez indulge in PDA after Blue Origin flightAmazon tycoon Jeff Bezos and Lauren Sanchez enjoy a VERY passionate public kiss on the streets of New York during romantic day out - amid furious criticism of his billionaire space race ewwww 🤢🤮 They are both disgusting 🤮

Could Bezos and the billionaires space race help save the planet?🚀At first sight, the regular transport of wealthy people into low Earth orbit – a prospect now closer than ever – seems like the answer to a question the planet wasn’t asking. But might such forays have their uses for the whole of mankind after all? I see three