Current and former Blue Origin employees accused Jeff Bezos and the company of sacrificing safety in order to win the space race against other billionaires and creating a company culture rife with sexism.

Alexandra Abrams, the former head of Blue Origin Employee Communications, wrote alongside 20 other current and former Blue Origin employees that: "Competing with other billionaires—and 'making progress for Jeff'"—seemed to take precedence over safety concerns that would have slowed down the schedule."

In the essay, the workers accused Blue Origin and its founder, Bezos, of creating a culture of toxicity and sexism. The employees said their concerns regarding the safety of several of Blue Origin's rockets had been suppressed as the billionaire raced to compete with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk and Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson. 

Many of the employees included in the essay said they would not feel safe flying in a Blue Origin vehicle, as they believe the company does not follow proper safety measures by stretching work across limited employees and racing to get the rockets ready in time to compete with Musk and Branson.

Abrams told CBS in an interview that in 2018 one team had documented over 1,000 safety concerns with the rockets that power Blue Origin's missions. She said that when she cited employees' concerns about safety to leadership she was told the individual did not have a "high enough risk tolerance." Abrams' employment was terminated in 2018. She said she was told executives felt they could no longer trust her.

Abrams also detailed numerous reports of sexual harassment that she said were ignored by leadership. In the essay, employees said multiple executives had been accused of demeaning female employees at Blue Origin. The essay said one man who was close to Bezos and CEO Bob Smith had multiple allegations of sexual harassment made against him. Despite the allegations, they said the executive was promoted. The essay also gave information about another executive who allegedly often referred to women by derogatory words like "baby girl" and "baby doll." The essay said female employees often warned each other to avoid these executives.

Abrams and the other employees said that while the workers were enthusiastic about Bezos' mission to explore space they were quickly disillusioned by the work culture his company fostered.


"Many of us have spent our careers dreaming of helping to launch a crewed rocket into space and seeing it safely touch back down on Earth," the essay said. "But when Jeff Bezos flew to space this July, we did not share his elation. Instead, many of us watched with an overwhelming sense of unease. Some of us couldn't bear to watch at all."

"If this company's culture and work environment are a template for the future Jeff Bezos envisions, we are headed in a direction that reflects the worst of the world we live in now, and sorely needs to change," the essay continued.

Blue Origin launched its first human mission in July, which flew Bezos and three crew members to the edge of space. The space company plans to launch another mission on October 12.

Blue Origin did not respond to a request for comment from Insider, but CBS said the company did not address the safety concerns. Though, a Blue Origin spokesperson told the news outlet it does not tolerate harassment within the company and would investigate those claims.

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