Blue Origin, the spaceflight company founded by Jeff Bezos, is undergoing a leadership change as its current CEO, Bob Smith, steps down and is replaced by Dave Limp, a high-profile executive from Amazon.com. Limp, who has been heading Amazon’s devices and services business responsible for products such as Alexa, Echo, Kindle, and Fire-branded devices, announced his retirement from Amazon last month. Blue Origin’s decision to bring in Limp comes as the company aims to address setbacks and development challenges faced in its space products portfolio. This includes losing out to SpaceX for a contract to build NASA’s human lunar landing system in 2021, an incident that prompted protests and a lawsuit. Blue Origin did win a follow-on contract from NASA worth $3.4 billion and has been working to upgrade its suborbital New Shepard spacecraft and launch the orbital rocket, New Glenn.
During his tenure as CEO, Smith oversaw significant growth in Blue Origin’s workforce, which now totals over 10,000 employees. The company has also expanded its office spaces and accumulated a backlog of projects valued at $10 billion. However, criticism has surrounded Smith as Blue Origin faced setbacks, including the failure of the New Shepard spacecraft’s engine mid-flight, resulting in its grounding for a year. Additionally, a group of former and active employees expressed concerns about a toxic work environment and sexist culture at the company. With the appointment of Dave Limp as CEO, Blue Origin hopes to overcome these challenges and leverage Limp’s experience in the successful development and market penetration of Amazon devices to drive the company’s space ventures forward.
Despite the setbacks, Blue Origin’s contract with NASA and its ongoing efforts to upgrade its spacecraft demonstrate its commitment to becoming a key player in space exploration, particularly in carrying astronauts to the moon’s surface. As the company transitions its leadership and addresses its development hurdles, it will strive to compete with established players like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Success in these endeavors will not only solidify Blue Origin’s position in the space industry but also contribute to the broader goals of advancing space travel and exploration.