General Hyten Joins Blue Origin as Executive Director of Club for the Future and Strategic Advisor

John Hyten

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today announced that General John Hyten (Ret.) will serve as executive director for its foundation, Club for the Future, and as a strategic advisor to senior leadership. General Hyten brings decades of experience as a space operations and acquisitions officer and held multiple assignments that included leading Air Force Space Command and U.S. Strategic Command.

“We are deeply honored to have General Hyten apply his tremendous leadership skills and space expertise to Blue Origin and Club for the Future. His knowledge of the space industry and his passion for inspiring the next generation make him a natural fit for these roles,” said Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin.

In his role with Club for the Future, General Hyten will focus on community outreach and engagement activities to empower students to become scientists, engineers, and explorers. General Hyten will also provide strategic counsel to Blue Origin senior leadership to help guide the company as it builds a road to space.

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Blue Origin Safely Completes Third Human Spaceflight

New Shepard takes off with six passengers on Dec. 11, 2021. (Credit: Blue Origin website)

The NS-19 mission marks the sixth flight of the year for the program

VAN HORN, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today successfully completed the third human spaceflight – the first with six astronauts on board. The astronaut manifest included, Laura Shepard Churchley, Michael Strahan, Evan Dick, Dylan Taylor, Cameron Bess, and Lane Bess.

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Blue Origin Signs Long-Term Agreements With Four Kansas Companies to Support New Glenn Heavy-Lift Launch Vehicle and Engine Programs

New Glenn on the launch pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Multi-year contracts showcase Greater Wichita region’s world-class manufacturers and historic leadership in aerospace innovation

WICHITA, Kan. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin announced today that it has signed multi-year contracts with four Greater Wichita area companies: Accurus Aerospace Wichita, C.E. Machine Company Inc, Harlow Aerostructures LLC, and Orizon Aerostructures, LLC. These contracts will support Blue Origin’s engine programs as well as New Glenn, Blue Origin’s reusable heavy-lift orbital launch vehicle designed to support commercial, civil, and national security space missions.

“Accurus Wichita is proud to be a supplier partner with Blue Origin, and we believe these important programs will benefit from the deep aerospace manufacturing expertise in the greater Wichita area,” said Larry Johnson, President and General Manager of Accurus Aerospace Wichita, LLC.

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Stucky Turns Blue: Joins Jeff Bezos’ Space Company After Departure From Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic

Richard Branson (l) and George Whitesides (r) walk with SpaceShipTwo pilots David Mackay and Mark Stucky after a successful glide flight. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Mark Stucky, whom Virgin Galactic demoted as its director of flight test in May and fired two months later, has joined Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space company, CNN reports.

Stucky said he will join Blue Origin’s “Advanced Development Programs” team, where he said in a statement to CNN that he will “do my best to contribute to [CEO Jeff Bezos’] amazing vision of humans not just having a continuous presence in space but truly becoming a space-faring species.”

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Report: Blue Origin has Stagnant, “Authoritarian Bro Culture”

Jeff Bezos

The Washington Post has a story examining the dysfunction at Jeff Bozos’ Blue Origin space company. It’s not a pretty portrait of the company under CEO Bob Smith.

The new management’s “authoritarian bro culture,” as one former employee put it, affected how decisions were made and permeated the institution, translating into condescending, sometimes humiliating, comments and harassment toward some women and a stagnant top-down hierarchy that frustrated many employees.

As it quickly grew from a small start-up to a large corporation with nearly 4,000 employees, Blue Origin grappled with how to improve its culture. In 2019, the company fired its head of recruiting after employees complained of sexism. A consultant retained by Blue Origin conducted a review of the company’s leadership, finding that the primary challenge was Smith’s ineffective, micromanaging leadership style, said two former employees, including a top executive.

The interviews and documents obtained by The Post reveal wide-ranging employee concerns about Smith’s leadership style, a bureaucracy that hampered innovation, and a lack of intervention from Bezos, who employees said was not giving the company enough attention during a crucial period….

Not everyone says the company culture has grown toxic. One employee who works outside the main headquarters said she has found the culture and leadership welcoming and respectful. Blue Origin’s human resources team took immediate action when she reported a claim of “highly inappropriate behavior” from another employee earlier this year, she said.

The company started investigating right away, and the other employee was terminated, further confirming her confidence in the company. “I’ve never felt like I couldn’t go to our leadership for support,” she said. “I’ve never felt like I couldn’t go to HR with a problem.”

The story appears to confirm many of the claims made in an open letter published by Blue Origin’s former head of employee communications Alexandra Abrams and 20 former and present company employees.

FAA Examination of Blue Origin Safety Issues Likely to be Very Narrow

New Shepard launch (Credit: Blue Origin webcast)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has said it will examine safety issues about Blue Origin’s crewed suborbital New Shepard vehicle raised by a group of current and former employees in an open letter published on Thursday.

The announcement comes 11 days before four paying customers, one reported to be Star Trek star William Shatner, are scheduled to board New Shepard for a trip to space. While a federal safety review might sound reassuring to these ticket holders, what does it actually mean in practice?

Probably not much.

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Former Employees Accuse Bezos, Blue Origin of Creating Toxic and Sexist Workplace, Cutting Corners on Safety

Jeff Bezos

Blue Origin’s former head of employee communications Alexandra Abrams and 20 former and present Blue Origin employees have published a stinging essay accusing Jeff Bezos and his space company, Blue Origin, of creating a sexist working environment where employees are overworked and corners are cut on safety.

The essay, “Bezos Wants to Create a Better Future in Space. His Company Blue Origin Is Stuck in a Toxic Past,” was published on Lioness.co. A key theme is that Bezos’ vision of billions living in space colonies is seriously at odds with the environment within Blue Origin.

The authors wrote of a sexist and discriminatory atmosphere within a company that is predominantly male.

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Blue Origin’s New Shepard Aces 17th Launch

VAN HORN, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin successfully completed the 17th New Shepard mission to space and back for the program, and the 8th consecutive flight for this particular vehicle.

Today’s flight featured commercial payloads on board, several of which were supported by NASA’s Flight Opportunities program and included a second flight of the Deorbit, Descent, and Landing (DDL) Sensor Demonstration under a NASA Tipping Point partnership. The DDL demonstration, which flew for the second time mounted on the exterior of New Shepard’s booster, tested technology designed to achieve high-accuracy landing for future Moon missions. This aims to enable long-term lunar exploration. 

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Blue Origin Safely Launches Jeff Bezos, Wally Funk and 2 Others on New Shepard Suborbital Flight

VAN HORN, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin successfully completed New Shepard’s first human flight today with four private citizens onboard. The crew included Jeff Bezos, Mark Bezos, Wally Funk and Oliver Daemen, who all officially became astronauts when they passed the Kármán Line, the internationally recognized boundary of space.  

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Blue Origin Challenges NASA Human Lunar Landing System Award to SpaceX

Artist concept of the Blue Origin National Team crewed lander on the surface of the Moon. (Credits: Blue Origin)

The New York Times reports that Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin has challenged NASA’s decision to award a $2.9 billion contract to Elon Musk’s SpaceX to develop the Human Landing System designed to return astronauts to the moon as part of the space agency’s Artemis program.

Bob Smith, chief executive of Blue Origin, said NASA’s decision was based on flawed evaluations of the bids — misjudging advantages of Blue Origin’s proposal and downplaying technical challenges in SpaceX’s. He also said NASA had placed a bigger emphasis on bottom-line cost than it said it would.

“It’s really atypical for NASA to make these kinds of errors,” Mr. Smith said in an interview. “They’re generally quite good at acquisition, especially its flagship missions like returning America to the surface of the moon. We felt that these errors needed to be addressed and remedied.”

He added that in any case, the space agency should have stuck with a desire it had stated many times, of wanting to hand out awards to two companies.

Blue Origin’s National Team included Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper. Dynetics was the other unsuccessful bidder to submit a proposal.

SpaceX won the contract with a proposal that will use a version of the company’s Starship vehicle, which is currently undergoing testing in Boca Chica, Texas.

The Government Accountability Office will now review the award and render a decision.

2020 a Busy Year for Suborbital Launches

New Shepard landing on the pad in West Texas on October 13, 2020, with the NASA Lunar Landing Sensor Demo onboard. (Credit: Blue Origin)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Suborbital launch used to be a sleepy field that rarely attracted much public attention. Let’s face it, atmospheric research and student experiments are not front-page news. Sounding rockets don’t have the majesty and power of a Falcon 9 or Atlas V.

In recent years, exciting new entrants in the field and widespread streaming of launches have made suborbital flights exciting. Last year saw important suborbital flight tests by SpaceX, Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic and Skyrora that garnered worldwide interest.

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Blue Origin Announces Board of Advisors

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin today announced the formation of its Board of Advisors, which includes notable former government space leaders and industry executives. The Board will provide strategic counsel on the company’s mission to radically reduce the cost of access to space and the utilization of in-space resources. In doing so, the Board will further advance Blue Origin’s vision of millions of people living and working in space to benefit the Earth. 

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New Shepard Successfully Completes Mission with NASA Precision Lunar Landing Technology Onboard

New Shepard landing on the pad in West Texas on October 13, 2020, with the NASA Lunar Landing Sensor Demo onboard. (Credit: Blue Origin)

CORN RANCH, Texas (Blue Origin PR) — Blue Origin successfully completed the 13th New Shepard mission to space and back, and the 7th consecutive flight for this particular vehicle, a record. Catch the mission webcast replay on Blue Origin’s YouTube page.

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Blue Origin BE-4 to Support ULA National Security Launches, Continue New Glenn Development

BE-4 engines (Credit: Blue Origin)

KENT, Wash. (Blue Origin PR) — Today, Blue Origin issued the following statement regarding the U.S. Space Force’s National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 Launch Services Procurement (LSP) announcement: 

“We are disappointed in the decision that New Glenn was not selected for the National Security Space Launch (NSSL) Phase 2 Launch Services Procurement (LSP). We submitted an incredibly compelling offer for the national security community and the U.S. taxpayer. Blue Origin’s offer was based on New Glenn’s heavy-lift performance, unprecedented private investment of more than $2.5 billion, and a very competitive single basic launch service price for any mission across the entire ordering period. We are proceeding with New Glenn development to fulfill our current commercial contracts, pursue a large and growing commercial market, and enter into new civil space launch contracts. We remain confident New Glenn will play a critical role for the national security community in the future due to the increasing realization that space is a contested domain and a robust, responsive, and resilient launch capability is ever more vital to U.S security. 

Blue Origin is very proud that our BE-4 engine will power United Launch Alliance’s Vulcan launch vehicle in support of the Space Force’s NSSL program and end reliance on Russian-built engines. The BE-4 is the most powerful liquefied natural gas-fueled rocket engine ever developed and the first oxygen-rich staged combustion engine made in the U.S. We look forward to supporting ULA’s long-standing role in launching national security payloads.” 

– Bob Smith, CEO, Blue Origin