Of course, there are many reasons to be cynical about today’s manned spaceflight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard launch system.
The company founded by Jeff Bezos hasn’t covered itself in the glory of the late, fall years in delivering rocket engines to a major customer, United Launch Alliance, and after failing to win a contract to build a lunar lander. And sued NASA. Thanks to Blue Origin’s lawsuit, NASA’s work with SpaceX on the human landing system has been stalled for nearly five months.
Then, there have been recent revelations about a “toxic” work culture at the company. Some former and current employees, except Alexandra Abrams, who left the company in 2019, have condemned a sexist workplace and other cultural ills that have kept Blue Origin from fulfilling its potential.
On the eve of the New Shepard-18 flight, which will take actor William Shatner briefly into space and over Earth’s atmosphere, Abrams said he hopes the crew of four will have a safe and modest flight. But she wasn’t punching when it came to Blue Origin, its founder, Jeff Bezos, and how far she felt the reality of Blue Origin’s actions deviated from her soaring vision.
“I grew up star trek, and I remember when Jeff Bezos visited Shatner in 2019 around Blue in Kent, Washington.” Nothing changes. star trek is about our shared humanity as a species and the pursuit of evolution; I’m worried that we are becoming the fanciers of our story.”
Bezos seems oblivious to such criticism. In response to an article about Abrams and the concerns of several other employees of the Washington Post, the newspaper he owned, Bezos tweeted An image of a 1995 article by Barron’s criticizing Amazon. “Listen and be open, but don’t let anyone tell you who you are,” Bezos said. “It was just one of many stories telling us how we were going to fail.”
But it’s not clear at all whether Bezos is listening to or prepared to hear legitimate criticism of Blue Origin.
Finally, there can be little doubt that inviting Shatner to fly as a guest on New Shepard’s second manned flight is a marketing ploy. The mission lacks the novelty of carrying the first crewed flight—Bezos—and would otherwise have had little interest in sending two millionaires (Chris). forest house and Glendevries) And Blue Origin employee Audrey Powers walked into space for a few minutes.
I asked Twitter followers on Tuesday if they thought the spectacle of Shatner taking the space was more “marketing” or more “amazing,” and by a three-to-one margin they voted for “marketing.”
Really curious what would be the reaction to this. Blue Origin that sent William Shatner into space was mostly…
— Eric Berger (@SciGuySpace) 12 October 2021
As someone who has written about space for decades and watched most episodes of star trek series, I’d say fly Shatner into space amazing marketing. This flight doesn’t solve any of Blue Origin’s problems, which are enough. The company has under-delivered due to poor management. But goddammit, Captain Kirk is going to space, and it’s thanks to Blue Origin and Jeff Bezos.
There are so many things in the world today to upset, but sending Shatner into space, after bringing so much joy to so many people for so many years, isn’t one of them.
The launch is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. CT, local time, in West Texas, or 14:00 UTC. The webcast will start 90 minutes in advance.