Astra, a startup building small rockets that launch out of rural Alaska, notched its first successful test flight on Friday night, putting a dummy satellite into orbit. The flight sent the company’s stock price on a tear — soaring more than 30% at one point after trading hours opened Monday morning.
Chris Sembroski, an engineer who previously worked at yet another aerospace giant, Lockheed Martin, announced the move on social media this week. At Lockheed, Sembroski’s title was “fault detection and diagnostics lead,” a role in which he worked on maintenance practices for the company’s Rotary and Mission Systems division. He also had a brief stint at DB Engineering, a Redmond, Washington-based mechanical engineering consultancy.
Now, he’s taken a role as an avionics engineer at Blue Origin, according to his LinkedIn page. It’s not clear which division of Blue Origin he’ll be working on, though his LinkedIn post included a rendering of the company’s forthcoming rocket New Glenn, which is expected to be powerful enough to reach orbit and is already competing directly with SpaceX’s rockets for lucrative launch contracts.
Blue Origin declined to comment about the specifics of Sembroski’s role.
Blue Origin, which was founded and largely owned by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezos, is primarily known for developing a suborbital space tourism rocket that took Bezos himself on a supersonic joy ride last year. But the company has also been working for years on New Glenn, and it could make its launch debut within the next year or so.
Sembroski entered the public eye last year, when a friend of his, airline captain Kyle Hippchen, won a lottery to join SpaceX’s Inspiration 4 mission and gifted the ticket to Sembroski. Inspiration 4 marked the first time a crew made up entirely of civilians or otherwise non-professional astronauts staffed a flight to orbit. It was put together by Jared Isaacman, the billionaire CEO of the payment processing company Shift 4.
Isaacman billed the mission, which launched in September 2021, as a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Hospital, and a fundraiser brought in more than $243 million for the organization. Isaacman reportedly paid “less than $200 million” for the mission.
Isaacman and Sembroski flew alongside Hayley Arceneaux, a childhood cancer survivor and St. Jude physician assistant, and Sian Procotor, a PhD geologist and college professor.
The Inspiration 4 crew spent three days in space before making a splashdown landing off the coast of Florida.
Blue Origin is not currently working on a capsule that could compete directly with SpaceX in the orbital space tourism game, but the New Glenn rocket could prove to be a workhorse for Blue Origin and aid Bezos’ ultimate goal of establishing orbiting colonies in Earth’s orbit.