SpaceX has reportedly made a significant hire, adding NASA’s former head of human spaceflight, Kathy Lueders. The new hire was first reported by CNBC, who said Lueders will be based at the company’s Starbase facility in Texas where she will report to Gwynne Shotwell, the company’s president and COO.
Lueders is of course no stranger to SpaceX, having already worked closely with the company in overseeing the Cargo and Crew Dragon missions to and from the International Space Station (ISS) onboard the Falcon 9 rocket, before retiring from the agency at the end of April. She was also responsible for SpaceX’s first crewed mission for NASA, which was a significant milestone in SpaceX’s history.
While SpaceX has already demonstrated its human spaceflight capabilities with NASA by ferrying astronauts to and from the ISS on half a dozen occasions, the company is now looking to Lueders’ expertise for their next big endeavor, Starship. SpaceX will be using Starship to land humans on the moon as part of NASA’s Artemis program, but the company has even greater ambitions and eventually hopes to use Starship to take humans to Mars.
Lueders’ knowledge of NASA’s processes and standards for human spaceflight is expected to be a significant asset for SpaceX as it continues to work towards these goals. Starship recently had its first successful launch before exploding a few minutes later over the Gulf of Mexico. Despite the explosion Musk said the company learned a lot from the test and gives the vehicle an 80% chance of reaching orbit on the next try.