Battle of the Billionaires: SpaceX Astronaut Jumps Ship to Blue Origin

Battle of the Billionaires: SpaceX Astronaut Jumps Ship to Blue Origin
Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin is trying to keep pace with Elon Musk's SpaceX. (Image: Joe Readle, Getty Images)

The private space race continues with a shuffling of personnel between companies: astronaut Chris Sembroski announced via Twitter that he’ll will be joining Blue Origin after previously working with SpaceX.

The race back to space has picked up the pace over the last few years as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin have leapt to the front of the herd of private space companies, serving as each other’s competition in the return to space. But Blue Origin may now have a slight upper hand, as Chris Sembroski, an astronaut who previously flew on SpaceX’s Inspiration4, has officially joined Blue Origin as an Avionics Engineer according to his LinkedIn. Sembroski previously served in the United States Air Force before working at Lockheed Martin as an engineer.

“Space beckons us. It taunts us. Images from Hubble and [the James Webb Space Telescope] pull on our desires to explore and to seek new adventure,” Sembroski tweeted. “I am thrilled to be a part of our expansion out to the rest of the universe. Let’s go!”

SpaceX and Blue Origin’s rivalry came to ahead in April 2021 when NASA selected SpaceX for a contract to build the lunar lander that would bring humans back to the moon, which Blue Origin (and presumably Jeff Bezos) was not happy about. Blue Origin then sued NASA over the decision and subsequently lost. Blue Origin also lost over a dozen high-ranking staffers across several months in 2021, with at least one of them opting to take a position at SpaceX. But working for Musk’s SpaceX is no walk in the park, as the company fired several employees who penned a letter that critiqued Musk’s behaviour on Twitter according to reports from last month.

The billionaire space race is something else: As Musk and Bezos continue to duke it out, the rest of us are forced to simply watch from the sidelines and deal with their consequences.