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Apr 3, 2020

Jeff Bezos’ space company is pressuring employees to launch a tourist rocket during the pandemic

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, space travel

Employees at Jeff Bezos’ aerospace firm Blue Origin are outraged that senior leadership is pressuring workers to conduct a test launch of the company’s New Shepard rocket — designed to take wealthy tourists into space — while the COVID-19 pandemic devastates the United States.

To conduct the flight, Blue Origin officials are considering transporting employees from the company’s main headquarters in Kent, Washington — a town near Seattle where COVID-19 cases have surged — to a small town in West Texas called Van Horn. The town, which has a population of just over 2,000, is home to Blue Origin’s test launch facility where the company has conducted all past flights of the New Shepard rocket.

Many employees fear that traveling to Van Horn might expose them to the novel coronavirus and inadvertently introduce COVID-19 to the residents of the rural town where there is very little infrastructure to handle an outbreak. The Verge spoke exclusively with four Blue Origin employees who all asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation from the company. They say they are frustrated by the company’s desire to conduct a launch, as it could unnecessarily jeopardize the health of employees at Blue Origin and residents of Van Horn.

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