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Top engineers and managers fleeing Blue Origin

According to this story today, Blue Origin this summer lost at least sixteen top management and engineering employees, all leaving in a very short time.

At least 16 key leaders and senior engineers have left Blue Origin this summer, CNBC has learned, with many moving on in the weeks after Bezos’ spaceflight.

…Others quietly updated their LinkedIn pages over the past few weeks. Each unannounced departure was confirmed to CNBC by people familiar with the matter. Those departures include: New Shepard senior vice president Steve Bennett, chief of mission assurance Jeff Ashby (who retired), national security sales director Scott Jacobs, New Glenn senior director Bob Ess, New Glenn senior finance manager Bill Scammell, senior manager of production testing Christopher Payne, New Shepard technical project manager Nate Chapman, senior propulsion design engineer Dave Sanderson, senior HLS human factors engineer Rachel Forman, BE-4 controller lead integration and testing engineer Jack Nelson, New Shepard lead avionics software engineer Huong Vo, BE-7 avionics hardware engineer Aaron Wang, propulsion engineer Rex Gu, and rocket engine development engineer Gerry Hudak.

Those who announced they were leaving Blue Origin did not specify why, but frustration with executive management and a slow, bureaucratic structure is often cited in employee reviews on job site Glassdoor.

There is another possibility that would be more hopeful. It could be that Jeff Bezos is shaking up the company because of its poor accomplishments during the past four years, since CEO Bob Smith was hired.

That Smith however is still there makes this guess unlikely. The article also notes that Smith’s approval among Blue Origin employees is abysmal, with only 15% approving his management, when compared to high numbers given to the management leaders at SpaceX and ULA.

Thus, this exodus is more likely a sign that that the rats are fleeing what they see as a sinking ship.

It would be a mistake to dismiss Blue Origin however. The company is swimming in dough because of Bezos’ deep pockets, and he is free to do what he thinks must be done to fix things. Under such conditions it is very unlikely Blue Origin will disappear. More likely Bezos will straighten things out, though the company now has to play big catch up, not only against SpaceX but also against the fleet of new orbital rocket companies about to come on line — all doing so ahead of Blue Origin.

There is also the possibility that this story has got its facts wrong. It makes a very big error near the beginning, claiming that former SpaceX engineer Lauren Lyons had left Blue Origin to join SpaceX, when she had actually left SpaceX to take a big promotion at Firefly. My mistake. Lyons had moved from SpaceX to Blue Origin. This job change was leaving Blue Origin to go to Firefly.

Hat tip to reader Jay.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.


  • Jay

    When I read the article, I first thought the company was crippled. On second thought, it will take them 4 to 6 months to replace, promote, and fill those holes across those multiple projects if they fire the CEO and throw A LOT of money at the problem. More delays to BE-4 and New Glenn.

    Did anyone else notice some of the names? Jeff Ashby is a former astronaut.

  • Jeff Wright

    They could be deadwood…but I doubt it.

    Jarvis was supposed to keep the suits off the engineers back…so this latest exodus would put the lie to that idea…in that Bezos has either fallen prey to another Wormtongue….or it casts doubt on the reason BO exists to begin with….

    I have long held that the medical community is in cahoots with greens in undermining America behind the scenes…the Greens after Musk show their flag at least. But BO has in fact done more damage!

    They have:
    A. bought up great minds only to sit on them;

    B. Tied up ULA on engine delays;

    C. Tied up Musk’s hands ALSO with suits so now there is no movement in either old or new space…and

    D; where Musk democritized space by giving it to steelworkers in the rough, Bezos’ JR Ewing stunt could not have been better designed so as to alienate the masses.

    Despite the Peter Principle at Boeing…SLS gains ground-no Bezos there at least.
    So while the press bashes test gods, and the wokes at Ars Technica trash my guys in Huntsville…the fact is that it is Bezos who has become the worst enemy to American Spaceflight since Proxmire-either by accident…or design.

    BO delinda est

  • Ray Van Dune

    Delenda est. Whatever.

  • Ray Van Dune wrote ”
    Delenda est. Whatever”.

    The Latin would not stand, sir!

  • Mark

    Grim-visaged war has wrinkled her botoxed mask,
    And now, instead of mounting grid finned rockets
    To astonish the souls of a world wide audience,

    The dead eyed zombies are in court to crush
    Those who dream of reaching for the stars.

  • David M. Cook

    I‘m guessing these folks were the “mavericks” who wanted to emulate SpaceX, but instead were told to “sit down & shut up” ‘cause those Dinospace managers know how to run an aerospace company better than some mere engineers!

  • Jay

    Jeff Wright,
    Good assessment on your four points. A new delay to launches has now been created, not technical or weather related: the injunction. I can see it now… “Sorry we must stop the countdown at T-0:00:04 due to an injunction from the 9th Circuit Court on the rights of the endangered “.

  • Richard M

    As far as Jarvis is concerned, I suspect it was a case of “too little, too late” for those departing for management related reasons – especially if they weren’t the ones working on the New Glenn second stage.

  • Jeff Wright

    Thank you Jay. Engineers get it from all sides politically. Greens don’t like them. The moneychangers want to starve them or fire them for profitability. Libertarians want to destroy NASA like they killed steel…treason. And the woke supremacists will pile on. Each has their own agenda…none good.

    Assuming Bezos isn’t secretly trying to wreck spaceflight…then he has become a rare example of an individual too enthusiastic about his calling…..becoming the Brandon Bostian of boosters.

    Who was he? The world found out late in the evening on May 12, 2015 as passenger train 188 made for Frankford Junction in Philadelphia..

    Amtrak’s enemies had a field day…as libertarians often do…though lack of proper budgets are as much to blame…see Flint’s water crisis.

    But in this particular case…the proximate cause was an FRN. The “RN” stands for “railway” nut. You all know what the first letter stands for.

    He loved trains too much…to where he was on a cell phone with other fanboys. Bezos is the same way. Musk actually does a better job reining himself in than he is credited for.

    Bezos has caused a derailment…to be sure..

    When a libertarian kills a project out of Randian stupidity…it hurts people.

    When an environmentalist goes after industry….it hurts people.

    When a multi-billionaire throws his weight around via wasteful lawsuits and impacts progress as America’s enemies are bearing down…it HURTS,


  • wayne

    “Michael Malice: Totalitarianism and Anarchy”
    Lex Fridman Podcast Number 200 (July 2021)

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