After flying with SpaceX, citizen astronaut Chris Sembroski joins Blue Origin as engineer

Chris Sembroski went into orbit during the Inspiration4 mission in 2021. (SpaceX / Inspiration4 Photo)

Seattle-area data engineer Chris Sembroski got his first taste of space last year during an orbital trip in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, but now he’s got a full-time job in the space industry — as an avionics engineer at Blue Origin.

In today’s Twitter update, Sembroski made no mention of the rivalry between SpaceX’s billionaire founder, Elon Musk, and Jeff Bezos, who founded the Blue Origin space venture as well as Amazon.

Instead, he played up the allure of the space frontier, as reflected in newly released pictures from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, or JWST. “Space beckons us. It taunts us,” he wrote.

“Images of our universe from Hubble and JWST pull on our desires to explore and to seek out new adventures,” Sembroski said. “I am thrilled to be a part of our expansion out to the rest of the universe — AND to announce I have joined @blueorigin! Let’s go!”

The picture accompanying the tweet shows Blue Origin’s orbital-class New Glenn rocket lifting off, and Sembroski’s LinkedIn page lists his job title as avionics engineer, but he provided no further details about what he’ll be doing at Blue Origin. We’ve reached out to Sembroski via email and will update this report with any additional information about the new job.

Sembroski, who used to work on Minuteman missiles for the U.S. Air Force, was a fault detection and diagnostics lead engineer for Lockheed Martin in Everett, Wash., when he was chosen as one of four crew members for last September’s philanthropic Inspiration4 space mission. He benefited from a winning lottery ticket that was bought by a friend who decided against trying to make the orbital trip.

One of Sembroski’s tasks during the three-day, free-flying mission was to take pictures of the crew in the capsule and of the planet below. He provided some musical moments on the ukulele in orbit — and in a video clip that went viral, Sembroski was caught watching “Spaceballs” on his tablet during the crew’s return to Earth. “One of my favorite movies,” Musk tweeted in response.

In April, Sembroski left his job at Lockheed Martin and became a senior analytics engineer at DB Engineering in Redmond, Wash. Back then, Sembroski said he’d try to continue following up on his passion for outer space. “What’s cool about all this is that when you take a step back, you realize that every company is a space company,” he told GeekWire at the time.

Now he’s changed the course of his career once more, to focus in on his dream destination.

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