Gwynne Shotwell

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Gwynne Shotwell at pre-launch briefing for CRS-2 mission

Gwynne Shotwell (born 23 November 1963 in Libertyville, Illinois) is an American businesswoman. She is the President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX (Space Explorations Technologies Corp.), a United States corporation providing space transport services to both government and commercial customers.[1] As of 2014, she is listed as the 90th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.[2]


Shotwell received bachelor and Master's degrees from Northwestern University, in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics.[3]

Business career[edit]

Shotwell originally planned to work in the automotive industry and was enrolled in Chrysler Corporation's management training program but did not remain in that industry.[3]

In 1988, she began work at the El Segundo research center of the Aerospace Corporation, and did technical work on military space research and development contracts. During a ten-year tenure she worked in thermal analysis while "writing dozens of papers on a variety of subjects including conceptual small spacecraft design, infrared signature target modeling, space shuttle integration and reentry vehicle operational risks."[3]

Wanting to "build, and put spacecraft together", in 1998 she left the Aerospace Corp. to become "director of the space systems division at Microcosm Inc., a low-cost rocket builder in El Segundo."[3]

In 2002, SpaceX's founding year, she became the company's seventh employee. As of June 2013, SpaceX has nearly US$5 billion in contracts and more than 3,000 people on its payroll. Shotwell is "responsible for day-to-day operations and managing customer relationships and company growth."[3]

Public outreach[edit]

Shotwell gave a TED Talk in June 2013 on the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).[4] She speaks regularly to business audiences and gave a talk for the "Captains of Industry" series at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security in June 2014 describing entrepreneurial private accomplishments in advancing spaceflight technology.[5]

Honors and awards[edit]

As of 2014, she is listed as the 90th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.[2]


  1. ^ "Gwynne Shotwell: Executive Profile & Biography". Business Week (New York: Bloomburg). 2011-12-01. Archived from the original on 2011-12-01. Retrieved 2011-12-01. 
  2. ^ a b "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved 26 June 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Hennigan, W.J. (2013-06-07). "How I Made It: SpaceX exec Gwynne Shotwell". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2013-06-10. 
  4. ^ Chestnut, Paul (2013-06-20). "Video: Engineering America: Gwynne Shotwell at TEDxChapmanU". NewSpace Watch. Retrieved 2013-06-21. (subscription required (help)). 
  5. ^ a b c Shotwell, Gwynne (June 4, 2014). Discussion with Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX. Atlantic Council. Event occurs at 22:35–26:20. Retrieved June 9, 2014. "This [reusable launch vehicle technology], all this innovation is being done by SpaceX alone, no one is paying us to do it. The government is very interested in the data we are collecting on this test series. ... This is the kind of thing that entrepreneurial investment and new entrants/innovators can do for an industry: fund their own improvements, both in the quality of their programs and the quality of their hardware, and the speed and cadence of their operations." 

External links[edit]