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24 Space Industry Executives Sign Diversity Workforce Pledge

By Jeffrey Hill | April 5, 2022

      Graphic by Aerospace Corp.

      Two dozen executives from the space industry’s largest companies signed an Aerospace Corp.-drafted industry pledge Tuesday morning to increase workforce diversity, report annual data on diversity in senior leadership roles, and to sponsor grade school education programs and work with universities to give more underrepresented students access to potential careers in space.

      Signatories on the “Space Workforce 2030” pledge included nearly all of the industry’s leading launch service providers, space services companies, and manufacturers. Each company pledged to meet the document’s goals by the year 2030 and to meet twice a year at the working level to exchange best practices on strengthening diversity recruitment, STEM education outreach and representation at leadership levels.

      The pledge’s signing statement reads, “We feel strongly that as humanity continues to extend our reach further into space, that presence must encompass the full range of people on Earth and reflect the values to which we aspire. We, as members of the space community, are committed to modeling this future state even as we endeavor to create it.”

      Space Workforce 2030 signatories included SpaceX President and COO Gwynne Shotwell. The U.S. launch company founded by Elon Musk has been criticized for workforce culture-related issues, including an allegation of sexual harassment that was publicized in December.

      Notably absent from the signing group was SpaceX’s launch industry rival Blue Origin, which came under fire this past September when 20 anonymous employees wrote a letter accusing Blue Origin Founder and owner Jeff Bezos and CEO Bob Smith of facilitating a “toxic work culture” where employees were allegedly harassed, ignored, and often encouraged to prioritize execution speed over quality control. The safety claims in the letter drew the attention of the Federal Aviation Administration, which launched an investigation.

      When asked why Blue Origin had not signed on to the pledge, Aerospace Corp. spokesperson Dianna Ramirez told Via Satellite, “We reached out to many companies in the industry about the pledge and some were very interested, but not able to join at this point, before our initial announcement. Many companies, including some who are now onboard, needed more time to work the data the way that the pledge requires. To a company, every organization we reached out to had overall alignment with the principals of the pledge.  We are hopeful that several additional companies will be able join us in the coming months, when the time is right for them.”

      Blue Origin has not yet responded to a request for comment.

      The complete list of the 24 space industry executives that signed the pledge is listed below:

      1. Roy Azevedo, President Raytheon Intelligence & Space
      2. Payam Banazadeh, CEO at Capella Space
      3. Peter Beck, CEO at Rocket Lab
      4. John Elbon, COO of United Launch Alliance
      5. Jim Chilton, Senior VP of Space & Launch at Boeing
      6. Eileen Drake, CEO and President at AeroJet Rocketdyne
      7. Michael Colglazier, CEO at Virgin Galactic
      8. Tim Ellis, CEO at Relativity Space
      9. John Gedmark, CEO at Astranis Space Technologies
      10. Steve Isakowitz, CEO at The Aerospace Corporation
      11. Larry James, Acting Director at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
      12. Daniel Jablonsky, CEO at Maxar Technologies
      13. Robert Lightfoot, EVP of Lockheed Martin Space
      14. Dave Kaufman, President at Ball Aerospace
      15. Chris Kemp, CEO at Astra
      16. Will Marshall, CEO at Planet
      17. Dan Piemont, President at ABL Space Systems
      18. Peter Platzer, CEO at Spire Global
      19. Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer at SpaceX
      20. Melanie Stricklan, CEO at Slingshot Aerospace
      21. John Serafini, CEO at HawkEye 360
      22. Dylan Taylor, CEO of Voyager Space
      23. Amela Wilson, CEO at Nanoracks
      24. Tom Wilson, President Space Systems at Northrop Grumman