The People at SpaceX Taking on the Final Frontier

George Paul November 12, 2020
Falcon Heavy Launch
Falcon Heavy Launch. Image Courtesy of SpaceX

To many, space is vast and mysterious, but to those at Elon Musk’s aerospace juggernaut, SpaceX, it represents a challenge and an opportunity.

Founded in 2002 by Musk, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (more commonly known as SpaceX) sought to achieve a singular and specific goal, to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars. As the company has gone about the task of conquering the red planet, it has also tapped into a wealth of commercially viable space-based businesses.

Currently, SpaceX operates two primary ventures: a commercial space travel operation that ferries objects (and soon people) to space via reusable rockets, and a connectivity satellite business, called Starlink, that provides terrestrial internet services through a network of low-earth orbit satellites.

As SpaceX’s CEO and CTO, Musk oversees much of the big picture side of the business, which leaves the day to day operations of the company to President and COO Gwynne Shotwell. An aerospace industry veteran with engineering experience, Shotwell is well-suited to execute Musk’s vision. Along with a cadre of associates, she can make SpaceX synonymous with the cosmos.

SpaceX's org chart on The Org

The company is chock-full of aerospace industry veterans and is one of the most attractive employers for young engineering students. VP of Human Resources Brian Bjelde can be credited with this achievement, as he has been shaping the company’s culture and talent pool from the start. He was the 14th employee the company hired, joining early on in 2003 as an Avionics Engineer, over time he has served in various leadership roles, eventually assuming his current role in 2014.

Among the hires Bjelde has made is Randy Rees, the man tasked with keeping SpaceX’s launches safe, an especially important role as the now certified to launch human passengers. Along with Don Kaderbek (the Senior Director of Test and Launch Operations at SpaceX), Rees will be in this spotlight every time a rocket leaves the launch pad.

With each launch, SpaceX gets closer and closer to its end goal of making to Mars, and when it is ready to accomplish that goal, the company will turn to Mark Juncosa, the VP of Vehicle Engineering. Juncosa and his team are the minds behind all of SpaceX’s vehicles, from its Starlink satellites to the Falcon Heavy launch vehicles. This group of engineers, and the experts of Will Heltsley’s Propulsion team, will one day be called on to create the ships that will take the first manned mission to Mars and beyond.

spacex

Starship Artist Rendering, Courtesy of SpaceX

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