Science & Tech

Former Blue Origin employee criticises William Shatner space flight with poignant Star Trek references

A former employee of Jeff Bezos’s space travel company, Blue Origin, has criticised the company ahead of its highly anticipated space launch on Wednesday, which will see Star Trek actor William Shatner become the oldest person to fly into space.

90-year-old Shatner, best known for playing Captain Kirk in the beloved sci-fi franchise, will travel into space with three other people on Wednesday morning, in what will be the second crewed flight aboard the company’s New Shepard rocket.

However, the flight is already receiving criticism before it has even gotten off the ground from Ex-Blue Origin employee Alexandra Abrams. In a statement obtained by CNBC reporter Michael Sheetz, Abrams noted the contrasts between Blue Origin and the United Federation of Planets, the interstellar government at the heart of the Star Trek mythos.

Abrams, who is a Star Trek fan, writes: “I sincerely hope the NS-18 crew has a nominal flight this week. I grew up on Star Trek, and I remember when Jeff Bezos toured Shatner around Blue in Kent, Washington in 2019. To me, Shatner’s presence serves as a reminder of how unlike the aspirational Federation we are today, and will continue to be if nothing changes.”

She continues: “Star Trek is about exploring our shared humanity & evolution as a species. I worry we’re becoming the Ferengi of our own story.”

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The Ferengi are an alien race that was introduced in the Star Trek: The Next Generation series who were highly skilled in economics. Their culture has been defined as driven by greed and ultra-capitalism as their goal is to always acquire the highest profit without resorting to violence.

The Ferengi are due to be reintroduced in season 4 of Star Trek: Discovery.

In the rest of her statement, Abrams adds: “Jeff Bezos & Bob Smith’s [Blue Origin’s CEO] a range of serious issues brought up by the very same people who worked to make Jeff’s vision a reality, are deeply disappointing but also unsurprising. Even if, by some incredible chance, zero issues exist within Blue’s products today, a toxic culture bursting with schedule pressure & untrustworthy leaders, breeds and encourages failures and mistakes each and every day.”

This is not the first time that Abrams has spoken out against her former employer. In an essay published in September, Abrams, joined by 20 current and former employees, accused the company of being “stuck in a toxic past” that “turns a blind eye to sexism, is not sufficiently attuned to safety concerns, and silences those who seek to correct wrongs.”

In response to the essay, Blue Origin said: “Abrams was dismissed for cause two years ago after repeated warnings for issues involving federal export control regulations.” It also stood by its “no tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind” and its “safety record and believe that New Shepard is the safest space vehicle ever designed or built.”

Indy100 has contacted Blue Origin for comment.

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