SpaceX Passenger Joins Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin as Employee

A civilian who once flew on a SpaceX shuttle has switched sides in the ongoing “space race” between billionaires Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos.

Chris Sembroski, a data engineer who took part in SpaceX’s “Inspiration4” mission to low Earth orbit last year, revealed on Twitter that he has taken a job at Bezos’ rival firm, Blue Origin.

“Space beckons us. It mocks us. Images of Hubble and JWST tickle our desires to explore and seek new adventure. I’m thrilled to be a part of our expansion to the rest of the universe! Let’s go!” Sembroski tweeted.

Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’ Blue Origin are locked in intense competition as leading companies in the burgeoning private space exploration industry. Both companies have operated flights with civilian passengers and are occasionally involved in court in pursuit of NASA contracts.

The message announcing Sembroski’s new gig featured an image of Blue Origin’s “New Glenn” rocket on a launch pad. It also referred to “JWST” or the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s $10 billion project that recently provided unprecedented glimpses of distant galaxies.

As I said, space beckons us. It mocks us.

Images of our universe from Hubble and JWST stimulate our desire to explore and seek new adventures.

I’m thrilled to be a part of our expansion to the rest of the universe – AND to announce that I’ve joined @blueorigin! Let’s go! pic.twitter.com/ee4PWMLvhY

— Chris “Hanks” Sembroski 🇺🇦 (@ChrisSembroski) July 18, 2022

Sembroski, an Air Force veteran, will work as an aeronautical engineer for Blue Origin, according to an update on his LinkedIn page. Prior to joining Bezos’ company, he held positions at DB Engineering and Lockheed Martin.

The Post has reached out to Blue Origin and SpaceX for comment.

Last fall, a federal judge dismissed Blue Origin’s attempt to overturn NASA’s decision to award a major lunar lander contract to SpaceX. In March, NASA said it would reopen bids on a second contract — with Blue Origin as an early frontrunner to land the gig.

Chris Sembroski was a member of SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission.© 2021 Inspiration4 2021/Netflix Jeff Bezos founded Blue Origin.Getty Images Chris Sembroski was one of SpaceX’s first civilian astronauts.via REUTERS

Aside from Blue Origin’s launch plans, Bezos-founded Amazon is pursuing plans to develop its own satellite Internet service that will rival SpaceX’s “Starlink.”

In August 2021, Musk joked that Bezos so often sued SpaceX that it was his “full-time job”. That dig came after Amazon asked the FBI to block SpaceX’s plan for a second-generation Starlink satellite network.

Sembrowski was one of four civilians who took part in the “Inspiration4” mission. Shift4 Payment CEO Jared Isaacman paid a hefty sum for the privilege of joining the crew, while educator Sian Proctor secured her spot in an online competition and Hayley Arceneaux was chosen as an employee of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Sembroski now joins Blue Origin as an engineer. AP Elon Musk is Founder and CEO of SpaceX.AFP via Getty Images

The mission eventually raised more than $240 million for research in St. Jude, with Isaacman contributing $100 million and Musk contributing $50 million.

On return, Sembroski told Florida Today in November 2021 that he would return to space “in the blink of an eye” if the opportunity arose.

“I will be forever changed by this whole experience,” he said.

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