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SpaceX chief operating officer discusses her job and the future of Starship in new interview

SpaceX was in the news a lot this year as it achieved many of its extraordinary goals, including 26 launches and becoming the single largest satellite operator in the world. Gwynne Shotwell, chief operating officer at SpaceX, spoke on some of these successes in a new interview with Ars Technica today.

Shotwell was initially hired by SpaceX back in 2002, only a short few months after Elon Musk founded the company. Back then, her job was selling launches onboard the company’s Falcon 1 rocket, a job that she was quite good at. This, as well as a close relationship with Musk, is what allowed her to move up to her current position as chief operating officer.

Shotwell is currently convincing satellite companies that launching on a previously flown Falcon 9 rocket is safe and reliable. However, she says that most of the decision-making in terms of what rocket to fly on is up to SpaceX, not the customer. This allows SpaceX to get the customer a launch date in the most timely manner possible. But if the customer does have a strong desire to launch on one platform over another, that can usually be arranged.

A photograph of Gwynne Shotwell

Launching on Starship is also something that Shotwell is currently pushing on customers. According to her, this task can be difficult as well, given that Starship is still largely unproven. If Starship does end up experiencing technical issues, customers will be given the option to fall back on Falcon 9. “We certainly de-risked that program pretty massively with that,” Shotwell said.

When asked if she believes that Starship will reach orbit sometime in 2021, Shotwell’s response was, “I’m voting yes.”

Via Ars Technica

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Avatar for Nicholas Terry Nicholas Terry

Nick has a love for technology, cars, and space.