Jeff Bezos’ space tourism and rocket company has decided to replace its CEO with a longtime Amazon executive.
Blue Origin’s current CEO, Bob Smith — a former Honeywell executive who took the role in 2017 — will step down and make way for Dave Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of devices and services, a Blue Origin spokesperson said in a statement. Monday statement.
Blue Origin said in its statement that Limp is “a proven innovator with a customer-first mindset. He has extensive experience in the high-tech industry and in growing highly complex organizations — including Amazon’s satellite business and Project Kuiper.”
The company also noted that Smith led Blue Origin’s transformation from “an R&D-focused company to a multi-faceted aerospace company approaching $10 billion in customer orders and more than 10,000 employees.”
Limp’s first day at Blue Origin will be Dec. 4, according to the company. However, Smith will remain in his position until January 2 to “ensure a smooth transition,” according to the statement.
Blue Origin has worked for more than a decade to develop a suborbital rocket and spacecraft, called New Shepard, capable of transporting paying customers and scientific experiments to the edge of space. The company’s first successful manned spaceflight carried Bezos as a passenger in 2021. New Shepard has since completed five additional missions with people on board.
However, the vehicle has not returned to flight since an unmanned science mission in September 2022 ended in failure.
Blue Origin has several other notable projects in the pipeline. It is developing a heavy-lift rocket called New Glenn that is powerful enough to reach Earth’s orbit, with the aim of competing with SpaceX for satellite launch contracts. The engines built for New Glenn, called BE-4, are also set to power the new Vulcan rocket under development by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture created by Lockheed Martin and Boeing.
Blue Origin struggled to deliver the BE-4 engines, facing months of delays. But ULA now expects the first launch of a BE-4-powered Vulcan Centaur rocket to take place this year, sending a NASA-backed spacecraft to the moon.
Separately, Blue Origin won a long-sought contract for NASA’s lunar exploration program – Artemis – in May, landing $3.5 billion to develop a spacecraft capable of carrying astronauts to the lunar surface.
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