Gwynne Shotwell joined SpaceX in 2002 to work on business development and recruiting of customers and was appointed president of the company in July 2009 following the final flight of the Falcon 1 rocket and the signing of the Commercial Resupply Services contract with NASA, which she negotiated. She is currently president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, while Elon Musk retains the titles of chief executive and chief technical officer.
In this interview, Shotwell discusses the struggle to get Falcon 1 to orbit, recovery from setbacks with Falcon 9, challenges and stress associated with launching crewed missions, the necessity of reusability, and the ambitions for Starship.
Q: What comes after Mars?
A: We are not working on a ship that yet has the propulsion technology to take us to other star systems, but I certainly hope that Mars is that example that shows that humans can live beyond planet Earth and that we will focus on propulsion technologies or some way of getting to a place that would otherwise take four or five thousand years.