SpaceX Hires Former NASA Human Spaceflight Chief: Report

Kathy lueders

Image credit: Kathy Lueders Twitter

In a significant strategic move, SpaceX has hired former NASA top human spaceflight official Kathy Lueders, CNBC exclusively reports.

Lueders, recognized as an expert in the sector, joined SpaceX just weeks after retiring from a distinguished 31-year career at NASA. At the space agency, she notably oversaw its Commercial Crew program, including the inaugural SpaceX missions carrying NASA astronauts.

Now serving as a general manager at SpaceX, Lueders will operate from the company’s Texas-based “Starbase” facility, reporting directly to Gwynne Shotwell, the company’s president and COO. This strategic hire comes as SpaceX pushes to ensure the safety of its colossal Starship rocket for future manned flights.

Lueders’ experience in human spaceflight is expected to be invaluable for SpaceX, especially considering her familiarity with the company’s current work in this area. Her appointment marks a significant milestone for SpaceX, reinforcing its commitment to making space travel safer and more accessible.

Interestingly, Lueders isn’t the first former NASA official to join SpaceX. In 2020, William Gerstenmaier, who served more than a decade as NASA’s leading human spaceflight official, also joined SpaceX as its vice president of build and flight reliability.

As of writing, SpaceX has yet to respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Lueders’ appointment. Lueders’ transition from NASA to SpaceX underscores the increasingly collaborative relationship between public and private entities in the space industry.

Last month, however, Lueders announced on Twitter a new @NASASpaceOps account was forthcoming, to share updates from NASA. She closed by saying, “Thank you for following along the journey. I will be taking some much-needed time off, but I’ll be back for my next adventure!”. Is that next adventure at SpaceX? Seems like it…we’ll find out soon enough.