Compared to competitors like Virgin Galactic and SpaceX, Blue Origin and CEO Jeff Bezos seem to receive more criticism.
According to Tencent Technology, recently, billionaire-backed space companies are extremely active, constantly launching rockets or spacecraft into space. For example, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic successfully performed the first manned suborbital flight, and SpaceX won the contract for NASA’s Human Landing System (HLS).
However, in this booming space sector, one company and founder is particularly hated, that is Blue Origin and its founder – Jeff Bezos.
Since its inception, Blue Origin has always focused on developing space technology, after completing the first manned space flight in July, the company began to gain more attention.
However, with a series of actions such as releasing a sarcastic infographic against a rival, unwillingness to admit defeat in the bid from NASA and inappropriate statements by Bezos, Blue Origin has made Blue Origin the focus of public criticism. .
|After taking Blue Origin’s first manned flight, Bezos showed off his aviator glasses. These glasses once belonged to the first female pilot Amelia Earhart to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.|
The pleasure of burning billions on space flight
Since Bezos founded the company in 2000, Blue Origin and its engineers and employees have been making progress in many of the space technologies the company focuses on, including the New Shepard rocket launched four passengers into space including Jeff Bezos in July this year.
It is also Blue Origin’s first manned spaceflight and marks an important milestone for the company.
But the milestone also made Blue Origin the focus of attention and also a turning point in the public’s perception of Bezos and his company.
The Space Barons author and technology journalist Christian Davenport said in an interview: “These flights and the entire aerospace industry have received a lot of backlash, which raises questions. Who will benefit in the end?”
Before and after suborbital flights, public commentary on social media, even traditional media and television news networks often discusses billionaires launching public rockets. Is their entry into space a positive development?
Senior editor at Ars Technica, Eric Berger, said: “Last month, Mr. Bezos received a lot of fierce criticism, not only because he is the richest man in the world, but also because he is so real. perform super-expensive private space flights just to satisfy their own vanity. This causes commercial space to be equated with ‘toys of the rich’.”
“It’s ordinary people who come together to do extraordinary things for Jeff Bezos,” said Mother Jones reporter Timothy Murphy.
|Bezos opens champagne to celebrate the success of the first space flight|
Although Richard Branson, also a billionaire and has successfully made a flight to the edge of space with the help of his own company in recent months, he has not been surrounded by negative comments such as Bezos.
Crude marketing ploy
Before Blue Origin’s manned suborbital flight, the company released many of the first infographics that could, in the most polite terms, be labeled “competition”.
Blue Origin published an infographic on Twitter on July 9 comparing the differences between Virgin Galactic’s suborbital spacecraft and Blue Origin’s. This infographic was released two days before Virgin Galactic’s manned suborbital flight on July 11.
|Blue Origin teases Virgin Galactic about the quality of space flight services|
Among the many advantages of Blue Origin listed in the infographic, the company specifically emphasizes that its flight will reach above the Karman Line, while Virgin Galactic’s flight can only reach 50 miles (80 km). ) above.
In addition, Blue Origin disparages that the opponent is launched by aircraft, not unmanned rockets, has too small windows like those of an airplane, has no escape compartment and emits too many greenhouse gases into the environment.
|Blue Origin’s infographic also points to flaws in SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft|
Later, Blue Origin released more infographics to attack SpaceX and criticize SpaceX’s Starship spacecraft as “too complicated” and “high risk” when carrying out missions on the Moon.
Eric Berger said: “Bezos’ public relations strategy of using infographics criticizing SpaceX seems clumsy!”
Stubborn attitude after losing HLS contract
In April of this year, NASA announced the selection of SpaceX as the sole contractor for the HLS contract. The contract is a key part of the Artemis program, under which NASA plans to return humans to the Moon in the next few years and build a lunar orbiter around 2024.
SpaceX will use the Starship spacecraft to complete this work, defeating the “national team” led by defense contractors Dynetics and Blue Origin. For important projects, NASA often awards contracts to multiple contractors to increase competitiveness and ensure the mission is completed on time.
However, in this program to send people to the Moon this time, NASA did not do so. NASA selected SpaceX as the sole contractor. According to NASA’s explanation, the limited budget that Congress grants to the program is the reason it chose only one contractor.
Blue Origin and Dynetics did not accept NASA’s decision. In July of this year, Bezos sent an open letter to NASA administrator Bill Nelson explaining why Blue Origin should win the HLS contract, and hinted that there were some “problems” in the process. Bidding.
|Bezos and Blue Origin’s New Shepard Rocket|
Berger believes that Bezos “was criticized by the aerospace industry for his stubborn objections when NASA awarded the contract for the Moon lander to SpaceX.”
“I don’t know if the general public has noticed the actions of Bezos and Blue Origin, but the community must have noticed that they often give out information,” said Laura Forczyk, owner of aerospace consulting firm Astralytical. negative reactions. This is seen as being too stingy, as if playing a trick.”
According to reports, the disputes arising from the HLS contract are still ongoing, and Blue Origin recently decided to file a lawsuit in the Court of Federal Claims. The NASA official asserted that this lawsuit has hindered the progress of the Artemis program, because in this lawsuit, NASA has voluntarily suspended cooperation with SpaceX.
“Bezos seems to have really deviated from the founding principles of Blue Origin,” Berger said. The public and many in Congress are paying attention to Bezos and Blue Origin and want to know why the billionaire owns nearly 200 billion dollars again protested and sued NASA for money, asking NASA to provide the cost to build the Moon lander.
If Jeff Bezos thinks building a highway to space is so important, start building it! If what he’s doing really helps, then the Government contracts will eventually go to him!”
Bezos’ careless attitude to employees
|Jeff Bezos in his post-flight press conference.|
Although Blue Origin faces a lot of criticism for its misleading infographic publication and stubborn attitude towards NASA’s HLS, the company’s founder himself has always been the target of criticism.
After completing the historic flight and returning to Earth, Bezos and other New Shepard crew members participated in a live press conference. During the meeting, Bezos still wore the cowboy hat he wore in space, and attracted many people’s attention with a thank you note.
“I want to thank all Amazon employees and customers because they are the ones paying for this flight,” billionaire Bezos said after the successful landing.
Perhaps this statement of Bezos is really true, but many people will think in a deeper way.
“Yes, the Amazon workers paid for that flight with low wages, strict working hours and a dehumanizing work environment, even the delivery staff didn’t have insurance. Even though they work during the pandemic, Amazon customers have to pay for flights because the company is monopolizing the market and oppressing small businesses,” Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez sarcastically thanked. of billionaire Bezos.
The images of urine bottles of employees and former Amazon employees circulating online are proof of the harsh working environment at the leading US company.
Berger also said that although criticisms of the billionaire, space company founder are not limited to Bezos, the main difference between Bezos and others, such as Musk and Branson, is that he is very ignore public and media attitudes.
Berger added: “Branson often appears on press conferences or conference calls, and always interacts with people on Twitter. In contrast, Bezos is more indifferent. He rarely tweets in replies and tweets. his Instagram account seems carefully planned to present a certain image. Jeff Bezos doesn’t seem to want to interact with the space community.”
Is public image important?
But is “engagement with the space community” really a necessary condition for a space company’s success? Of course, the founder of a company doesn’t have to be the most famous to be successful. However, the aforementioned actions of Bezos and Blue Origin could jeopardize the future success of the company.
Michael López-Alegría, a former NASA astronaut and current Vice President of Business Development for Axiom, said that although many companies have been putting satellites in orbit for a long time, not many are involved. project to send people into space. Every company has to find a way to make itself stand out. In addition to their differences in technology and experience, how they shape the brand and communicate with the media and the public is also important.
Columnist Christian Davenport added that now Blue Origin “starts to be more active in bidding for Government contracts, and as the company begins to launch ordinary citizens into space, they will need to collect attract the public more effectively.
The founders of companies may say they don’t want public opinion, but members of Congress don’t. Because Congress is responsible for overseeing federal spending, they can play a huge role in influencing these companies’ future business.”
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Billionaire Jeff Bezos decided to win a contract to build a lander for NASA
On July 26, billionaire Jeff Bezos, the founder of the space company Blue Origin, wrote an open letter to the US Space Agency (NASA), in which he agreed to reduce the cost of manufacturing by up to $ 2 billion. Moon lander.