Today, it feels as if a billionaire-backed space company has been launching from Earth.So why did Jeff Bezos’ Blue origin Seems to be in a hot seat?
Despite the success this summer, the recent competition and some controversial tweets-including some misleading infographics-have made many people who follow the aerospace industry feel less supportive of Jeff Bezos and his aerospace. company.
In the past few months, as companies such as Axiom plan to carry out manned missions to the International Space Station, SpaceX has won NASA’s Manned Landing System (HLS) contract to build a lunar lander, and Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic have successfully completed the mission. Human suborbital flight, commercial space flight began to accelerate the flight with the company’s respective billionaire founders.
However, in the booming aerospace field, a company has aroused the anger of most people-Blue Origin.
Since Bezos founded the company in 2000, Blue Origin and its diligent engineers and employees have been making advancements in many of the company’s aerospace technologies, including New Shepard The aircraft that sent four passengers into space and returned in July this year, as well as the upcoming New Glenn Orbiter.
The latest release of Blue Origin, Bezos and his brother Mark, 18-year-old Dutch student Oliver Daemen and pioneer pilots carry Wally Fink The suborbital space to and from the New Shepard was a turning point for the company. This is the first time it has carried passengers into space. This is a milestone and marks a step towards the future, regularly launching paying customers including space tourists.
But this milestone that made Blue Origin the focus seems to have also become a turning point in the public’s perception of Bezos.
The July flight is certainly not the first time that Blue Origin has received media attention.But in fact this is a manned launch (crew including Bezos himself), and its closeness in time to the manned suborbital launch of Virgin Galactic and its founder. Richard Branson Just a week ago, it shed light on the company.
All wrong attention
“There is considerable backlash against the huge cost of these flights, flights and the industry as a whole,” said Christian Davenport, the author of the book.Space Baron“And a space reporter from the Washington Post told Space.com. “Although these entrepreneurs are beginning to take private citizens [to space]So far, passengers are basically very wealthy. This raises the question of who will ultimately benefit. “(Bezos acquired the Washington Post in 2013.)
Before and after these suborbital flights, public discussions on social media, and even traditional media and broadcast news networks, are very inclined to discuss whether it is a positive development to see billionaires riding their company-made rockets into space.
“Bezos received some serious opposition last month because he is the richest man in the world, and his first real public space flight behavior was to board a spacecraft and rocket into space for his own satisfaction. ,” Eric Berger, author and editor of veteran astronaut Ars Technica, told Space.com. “This highlights the criticism of commercial spaces as’rich men and their toys’.” (Berger’s book”Lift off: Elon Musk and the desperate early days of launching SpaceX“Published in March.)
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who ran for president in 2020, Publicly criticize Bezos
“Jeff Bezos can enjoy a space trip while he and other billionaires are playing with this system, so they pay almost zero taxes,” Warren tweeted on August 18.
Although billionaire Branson has also participated in his own company’s suborbital tour in recent months, many negative comments have revolved around Bezos.
In addition to their space adventures, Bezos and other billionaire founders such as Branson and SpaceX Elon Musk With a legendary profession and history, he has won wide public opinion. Recently, however, Bezos’ continued behavior and the competition infographic published by Blue Origin have sparked criticism of the company.
Prior to Blue Origin’s manned suborbital flight, the company released the first of several infographics that could be labeled “competitive” in the most polite terms.
The first infographic, Blue Origin’s tweet on July 9th, Shows a side-by-side comparison showing the difference between Virgin Galactic’s suborbital vehicle (called SpaceShipTwo) and Blue Origin’s New Shepard. The infographic was released two days before Virgin Galactic’s manned suborbital flight on July 11.
Among the many attributes of Blue Origin listed in the infographic, it specifically pointed out the fact that the flight of Blue Origin will reach above the Carmen Line, which is an internationally recognized space 62 miles (100 kilometers) from the earth. Borders, and Virgin Galactic can only fly more than 50 miles (80 kilometers), this height is worthy of the deployment of astronauts by US government agencies.
This infographic is followed by other infographics from other space companies.For example, the latest, where Published by the company On its website, it calls SpaceX’s Starship deep space vehicle “extremely complex” and “high risk.”
“his [Bezos’] The public relations strategy of using infographics criticizing SpaceX seems to be iron fist and deaf,” Berger said.
HLS tug of war
The infographic depicting SpaceX’s interstellar spacecraft points to another major point of contention that Bezos and his company sparked.
In April of this year, NASA designated SpaceX as the sole winner of its Manned Landing System (HLS) contract, which will allow the company to build NASA’s next lunar lander, as part of the agency, which will bring astronauts to The surface of the moon. Artemis ProjectSpaceX will use Starship to complete this work, defeating the “national team” led by Dynetics and Blue Origin in the contract.
NASA has previously stated that it hopes to award more than one HLS contract so that the Artemis program can benefit from competition and redundancy. However, officials of the agency said after the contract was announced that, given the relatively low level of funding allocated by Congress for HLS work, this was not a viable option.
Blue Origin and Dynetics did not accept NASA’s decision and instead lodged a protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office. (These protests were denied earlier this month.) In July, Bezos wrote an article Open letter to NASA Director Bill Nelson Explain why Blue Origin should have won the HLS contract and imply that the choice was not made correctly.
Bezos was criticized in the space community for “stubbornly protesting NASA’s contract for a manned landing system awarded to SpaceX,” Berger said.
In addition to increasing discussions on social media, publications including popular science have also begun to document this criticism.
“I don’t know if the public has noticed this, but the space community will definitely pay attention, and the response from the space community has been very negative,” said Laura Forczyk, who owns Astralytical, an aerospace consulting company. Tell the public science“It’s considered stingy-it’s like losing your temper.”
And the HLS legend continues, Blue Origin recently decided to file a lawsuit with NASA for this option in the Federal Claims Court, on the grounds that the company described it as “NASA’s illegal and improper assessment of a proposal submitted under HLS Option A BAA [broad agency announcement],” According to Space News.
This lawsuit has actually stopped work on the Artemis lunar lander. Due to the lawsuit, NASA voluntarily suspended HLS work with SpaceX. NASA representative told Space News.
Moreover, in all the troubles of the HLS contract, Blue Origin engineer Nitin Arora, who had worked at NASA, actually quit and joined SpaceX, he announced on LinkedIn.
“Bezos really seems to have deviated from the founding principles of Blue Origin,” Berger said. “The public, as well as many people in Congress, looked at Blue Origin and Bezos and wondered why a person worth $200 billion would protest and sue NASA for funding the construction of a lunar lander.”
“If building a highway to space is so important, then start building it,” Berger added. “If you build something for a useful purpose, the government contract will eventually follow.”
Cherry on top
Although Blue Origin as a company has received considerable criticism for its infographics and multiple actions taken in response to NASA’s HLS selection, the company’s founder himself has also been criticized.
In addition to Bezos’ open letter, Blue Origin’s multiple actions after losing the HLS contract, and the company’s controversial infographic, Bezos added another controversial item to the list on the day of his suborbital flight. .
After returning to Earth after completing a short mission, Bezos and the other new Shepard crew gathered for a live news conference. During the meeting, Bezos still wore the big cowboy hat he wore in space, and only answered three questions from reporters before starting to discuss the flight. A post-flight comment by Bezos caught the attention of many people:
“I would also like to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, because you have paid the price for all this,” Amazon founder Bezos said to the crowd and live broadcast viewers.
Even in addition to Bezos’s comments, Bezos’ experience in space flight and continued complaints about the treatment of Amazon workers have also raised questions and concerns.
“Tomorrow, Jeff Bezos will take a rocket ship around for more than 10 minutes. The’super bike’ shift workers in the Amazon warehouse will stand for 10 hours. I am struggling for an economy that values work dignity, not his wealth. Multiplication,” Congressman Andy Levine (Michigan Democrat) Tweet July 19, one day before Bezos was released.
Although the criticism of the billionaire space company’s founder is not limited to Bezos, “The main difference between Bezos and others like Musk and Branson is that,” Berger said, “he largely ignored the public. And the media.”
“Musk often appears in press conferences or conference calls, and has been interacting with people on Twitter. Branson is quite approachable because he seems to have his feet on the ground. By contrast, Bezos is indifferent,” Berger added road. “He rarely tweets, and his Instagram account is clearly carefully planned to reflect a certain image. This is not someone who takes seriously interacting with the space community in a meaningful way.”
However, in order for aerospace companies to succeed, do they really need to “contact the aerospace industry”?
Is public image so important?
Of course, the founder of a company is not necessarily the most popular person to make the company successful. However, the aforementioned actions of Bezos and Blue Origin may jeopardize the company’s future success.
Although many companies have put satellites into orbit for some time, “there are not many companies involved in the latter’s manned space project,” Michael Lopez-Alegria, A former NASA astronaut and current vice president of business development at Axiom, told Space.com.
“So I think each of them-especially between the two suborbital companies-they have to figure out how to distinguish themselves. Part of the reason is obvious because their experiences are very different,” he said, referring to Virgin Galactic’s Space planes and Blue Origin’s New Shepard rockets and capsules. “But I think beyond that…their brand and their attitude to the media is the way they want to portray themselves.”
“I think there is a huge market for suborbital space tourism, so as long as New Shepard can perform it on safe and regular flights, I think this business will be profitable,” Berger said.
However, now Blue Origin “begins to pursue government contracts more actively, and as it begins to fly private citizens, it needs to interact with the public more effectively,” Davenport added. “The founders of these companies may claim that they will not pay close attention to public opinion, but members of Congress will. And because Congress monitors federal spending, they can play a huge role in the future of the company.”
Blue Origin is about to launch next time, New Shepard’s unmanned flight Called NS-17, here it is. The mission will take off on August 26 to suborbital space, and then return to Earth.
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