How Elon Musk’s SpaceX COO Is Changing The Game

Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX is known for its mind-blowing inventions for decades. However, we might not be aware of SpaceX COO’s requisite role in growing the company exponentially. Gwynne Shotwell is a very successful American business person and an engineer who is also the president and chief operating officer of SpaceX. The company has been famous for decades for its incredible innovations and is often associated with its founder Elon Musk. Musk has been coming up with new inventions every month in the last couple of years, including the Hyperloop, Starlink, the Boring Company, Neuralink, and Tesla Smart vehicles, to name a few.

Thus, the association of SpaceX with Musk makes it popular among the masses. However, what the multitude are not fully aware of is the crucial role of Gwynne Shotwell in making SpaceX what it is today. She is like the unsung hero of this company.

Here is how SpaceX’s COO grew the company exponentially.

Gwynne Shotwell’s Early Life Expertise

Gwynne Showell was born to an American family in Illinois. Her father, a brilliant neurosurgeon, would require her aid in few tasks such as setting up fences. She also had the expertise to repair her bicycle at a very tender age.

Later, Gwynne grew up to study mechanical engineering at Northwestern University. After completing her college education, she landed a job at Chrysler Corporation’s management training program and liked gaining expertise for a better job in the future but had difficulty coping with the conservative culture here.

Shotwell knew that if she could get past this challenging phase, better opportunities would await. When she completed her training program and shifted to Los Angeles, she worked as a defense contractor at Aerospace Corp. Things started looking better for her when she joined a private space startup known as Microcosm.

Shotwell Joins SpaceX

One of the engineers who used to work at Microcosm, Hans Koenigsmann, recognized this young woman’s talent and expertise and referred her to SpaceX in 2002. SpaceX tasted like independence to Shotwell because Microcosm was more involved in small government contracts. On the other hand, SpaceX was involved in selling rockets to private companies for launching their satellites on space.

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She signed the contract as the seventh employee at SpaceX and became the head of business development. Her job was to sell these rockets to the private groups; the tricky part was selling to them before a trial. Eventually, she was also in charge of convincing the government to allow demonstration rides.

She found this job tricky but thrilling because she had faith in her boss, Elon Musk, and his far-fetched vision. She thought that his idea of selling rockets at lower costs to launch private satellites was a potentially successful business endeavor. Her job would be to increase the sales so that the process could go up and revenue could increase.

The Exponential Growth of SpaceX after Shotwell’s Arrival

The first single missile rocket engine made by SpaceX, known as Falcon 1, sold for about $7 million per launch. However, Shotwell’s high expertise changed the fate of the company. By the end of 2010, SpaceX became the first private company to launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft.

Shotwell has always preferred to skip the spotlight while Elon Musk steals it all with his clever tweets. His ideas are ingenious, but their execution would have faced several obstacles without Shotwell’s presence in the company. Shotwell admits that she would not be part of one company for so many years if she did not feel at home in SpaceX.

She is also a big fan of Elon Musk’s bravery and his out-of-the-world ideas that take the space community by storm every time. One of the recent achievements of SpaceX under the presidentship of COO Gwynne Showell is the launching of the Dragon capsule in space.

In 2008, Gwynne Showell was made president of SpaceX. It was no coincidence that SpaceX entered a tie-up with NASA to transport cargo to the International Space Station in the same year. This contract was for an astonishing $1.6 billion. In May of 2020, SpaceX also signed a contract with NASA to send astronauts to the International Space Station.

Though SpaceX is well known for its Starlink project, this project aims to launch as many satellites in space as possible to provide better internet connectivity worldwide. The mission is dedicated to eradicate the digital divide that exists between the east and the west. Under the leadership of Shotwell, SpaceX had launched about 700 satellites since 2019. Musk has trained Shotwell in dreaming big, and their next target is to build rockets to go to Mars.

Today SpaceX has a net worth of about $74 billion, and Gwynne Shotwell is among the most influential people of 2020, as released by Time’s Magazine. She has a net worth of $120 million, and Forbes also lists her as the 49th most powerful woman in the world.

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Source: Forbes, makeit, Professional Woman’s Magazine, Bloomberg

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