We all know about Elon Musk as the face of Space X. But few know that Space X sits in the capable hands of a woman Gwynne Shotwell.
Gwynne Shotwell is the president and COO of SpaceX, basically running all the SpaceX operations from engineering to marketing and sales.
Gwynne has been instrumental in the success of SpaceX. She joined the company in 2002 after she met Elon Musk at dinner with a long time friend that has recently joined Space X as an engineer.
She suggested Musk to hire a full time business developer if he wants the company to succeed.
That same day she received the proposal from Musk to become the sales director of the company.
While she was in the middle of a divorce, with 2 small kids and in the middle of an apartment renovation , her job at Micosmos was the only element of stability in her life. But the prospect of disrupting the space industry and colonising Mars seemed too attractive to say no to.
In 2002 she was just the 7th employee of the company and it took just 6 years to launch successfully the first reusable rocket in 2008 while on the bridge of bankruptcy having money for just one last flight...
Nowadays they are launching satellites in space at a frequency of almost every 2 weeks, the company has its own satellite and rocket factory, an ambitious plan to land people on the moon by 2024 and be ready to fly to Mars shortly after.
Why is has become SpaceX so famous, so fast?
SpaceX has disrupted an industry that until then was only belonging to the governments of the wealthiest nations: US, Russia, EU.
How? They have changed the concept of single use rockets into reusable and affordable which made them favourites in company’s bids for launching satellites into the orbit.
Why is that important?
Companies providing telecommunication, broadcasting, internet, or any GPS service are using satellite service. The average lifespan of a satellite is 5 to 8 years, afterwards it will be de-orbited and will burn down on reentry into the atmosphere so it needs to be replaced. The average cost of an US Space-Force satellite launch is 360 mil dollars, while SpaceX with their re-usable rockets can launch them at a cost of under 36 mil.
Space X has 3 different types of rockets, based on the amount of weight it can carry to and from space : Falcon 9 ( up to 8 tons reused to launch satellites) , Falcon Heavy ( approx 40 t) and the Starships that are being tested right now with a planed payload capacity up to 150t.
The Company’s vision is to develop the Starship rockets as re-usable space vehicles able to carry at each flight 100 crew with pay-load to Mars. So far there have been a series of flight test of which the last one with SN 15 model has proved that the rocket can fly land back safely so it can be re-used.
Although it sounds science fiction and useless compared to all the problems we have on planet earth, just imagine how many problems this can solve with space travel that cheap:
What if we can move the most necessary but polluting industries away from earth and into space?
Or if we can mine rare metals from other planets instead of destroying our landmarks if transportation back to Earth will have reasonable costs?
Or can you imagine what this will mean for long range flights on Earth: what if you can fly 150 tons from New York to Sydney in 30 min instead of a minimum of 22 hours?