SpaceX VP Hans Koenigsmann, Elon Musk’s fourth hire at the space firm, plans to retire

SpaceX vp of construct and flight reliability Hans Koenigsmann (left), former NASA director of human spaceflight William “Bill” Gerstenmaier (proper).

Source: NASA

SpaceX vp of construct and flight reliability Hans Koenigsmann is retiring, CNBC has discovered, and has begun transitioning his function to William “Bill” Gerstenmaier, the former NASA official that joined the firm a yr in the past.

Koenigsmann stated he had been considering retirement and believes it’s the proper time to hand over the reins to Gerstenmaier, in accordance to memo in late January to SpaceX staff that was seen by CNBC.

SpaceX didn’t reply to CNBC’s request for remark.

Koenigsmann, a German-born aerospace engineer who joined Elon Musk’s firm as its fourth technical worker in 2002, and has led a lot of SpaceX’s launches and missions. He has a PhD in aerospace engineering and manufacturing from the University of Bremen, earned earlier than becoming a member of SpaceX.

He’s served as one in every of SpaceX’s most revered leaders and a jack-of-all-trades: Overseeing launch readiness, inspecting the high quality of rocket engineering and improvement, analyzing dangers, and figuring out and resolving points discovered earlier than and after launches.

SpaceX has relied upon Koenigsmann’s technical experience from the very first rocket it developed, the Falcon 1, for which he designed the avionics. For Falcon 1 launches, he served as the chief launch engineer — a place which has the closing say to the launch director of whether or not or not the rocket is nice to go.

Hans Koenigsmann stands along with his household in entrance of a Falcon 1 rocket at the firm’s launch facility on Omelek Island in the Kwajalein Atoll.


Koenigsmann informed NASA historians that he met Musk almost 20 years in the past at a rocket launch in California’s Mojave desert.

“He came by my house for the interview, because we had no office, nothing. We did the interview in my living room mostly, which I thought was really ingenious because it tells you so much more if you go to somebody’s house. You can look at the pictures, the books, everything,” Koenigsmann stated. “SpaceX started right around the same time.”

Additionally, Koenigsmann was liable for introducing Musk to Gwynne Shotwell, who now serves as SpaceX’s president and chief working officer. Koenigsmann and Shotwell beforehand labored collectively as engineers at small satellite tv for pc builder Microcosm.

Koenigsmann was awarded NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2014, an honor reserved as the space company’s highest recognition for non-government people.

His function will probably be stuffed by Gerstenmaier, who has been reporting to Koenigsmann since becoming a member of the firm in February 2020. Gerstenmaier beforehand served as the NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations for almost 14 years, the prime place main the company’s human spaceflight applications, which marked the end result of 4 many years at NASA.

Gerstenmaier was not too long ago in SpaceX’s mission management heart for its record-breaking Transporter-1 launch. He was sitting in the Fight Reliability chair (also referred to as “Mission Assurance”) for the mission, an individual aware of the function informed CNBC.

For now, Koenigsmann will grow to be a technical advisor, he stated in the memo, working part-time to assist SpaceX’s work on reliability and anomaly investigations. Putting it merely, Koenigsmann described working for Musk as the honor of a lifetime.

Hans Koenigsmann, VP of Mission Assurance at SpaceX, speaks at the World Space Risk Forum (WSRF) in Dubai on November 4, 2016.

KARIM SAHIB | AFP | Getty Images

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