Gwynne Shotwell

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Gwynne Shotwell
Gwynne Shotwell at pre-launch briefing for CRS-2 mission (KSC-2013-1704).jpg
Gwynne Shotwell at pre-launch briefing for CRS-2 mission
Born Gwynne Gurevich
(1963-11-23) November 23, 1963 (age 54)
Evanston, Illinois, US
Nationality American
Education Mechanical Engineering (B.Sc.)
Applied Mathematics (M.Sc.)
Alma mater Northwestern University
Known for The Aerospace Corporation, Microcosm Inc, SpaceX
Title President and Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX
Children 2

Gwynne Shotwell (née Gurevich; born November 23, 1963) is an American businesswoman. Gwynne Shotwell is President and Chief Operating Officer at SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies Corporation), where she is responsible for day-to-day operations and company growth.

SpaceX is a United States corporation providing space transport services to both government and commercial customers.[1] As of 2016, she is listed as the 76th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.[2]

Early life[edit]

Shotwell was born in Evanston, Illinois as the middle of three daughters to a brain surgeon and an artist and raised in Libertyville, Illinois,[3] she received, with honors, a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mathematics from Northwestern University.[4]

Professional career[edit]

Shotwell originally planned to work in the automotive industry and was enrolled in Chrysler Corporation's management training program but desired more a hands-on engineering role[5] and did not remain in that industry.[4]

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".[4]

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".[4] There, she served on the executive committee and was responsible for business development.

In 2002 Shotwell joined SpaceX, a private, commercial, space exploration company founded by Elon Musk in the same year, she was its seventh employee, her role is vice president of business development and she has a seat on the SpaceX board of directors. The company builds the Falcon vehicle family which has launched almost 50 times representing nearly $5 billion in revenue. Shotwell is now President and COO of SpaceX, responsible for day-to-day operations and managing all customer and strategic relations to support company growth.[6]

Famed for its innovation and disruption of an entire industry, SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft in December 2010, it also has a multibillion-dollar contract with NASA to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX is also working on a next-generation transportation system to take people to Mars in the near future.

Shotwell participates in a variety of STEM related programs, including the Frank J. Redd Student Scholarship Competition. Under her leadership the committee raised more than $350,000 in scholarships in 6 years.[6]

Public outreach[edit]

Shotwell gave a TEDx Talk at TEDxChapmanU in June 2013 on the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.[7] 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.[8]

Honors and awards[edit]


  1. ^ "Gwynne Shotwell: Executive Profile & Biography". Business Week. New York: Bloomberg. December 1, 2011. Archived from the original on December 1, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2011. 
  2. ^ "The World's 100 Most Powerful Women". Forbes. Forbes. Retrieved June 26, 2014. 
  3. ^ Hennigan, William J. (7 June 2013). "How I Made It: SpaceX exec Gwynne Shotwell". Los Angels Times. 
  4. ^ a b c d Hennigan, W.J. (June 7, 2013). "How I Made It: SpaceX exec Gwynne Shotwell". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ Strube, Frank (21 April 2014). "It all Started with a Suit: The Story Behind Shotwell's Rise to SpaceX - Via Satellite -". Via Satellite. Retrieved 20 April 2017. 
  6. ^ a b SpaceX AsiaSat8 press release
  7. ^ "Engineering America: Gwynne Shotwell at TEDxChapmanU". Youtube. TEDx Talks. Retrieved January 20, 2015. 
  8. ^ a b 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. 
  9. ^ Cite error: The named reference was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

External links[edit]

  • Shotwell, Gwynne (3 February 2016). Gwynne Shotwell comments at Commercial Space Transportation Conference. Commercial Spaceflight. Event occurs at 2:43:15–3:10:05. Retrieved 4 February 2016. (after 2:53:00, and a review of video of several failed attempts to land a booster rocket on a drone ship, and then a successful return of an orbital first stage to a landing pad) It's awesome. You know, I don't think you get that kind of thrill in banking. It's extraordinary.