Kathy Lueders, formerly NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Space Operations Directorate, before speaking to the media on May 30, 2020, after SpaceX’s launch of the Demo-2 mission.
CNBC has learned that Kathy Lueders, NASA’s newest senior human spaceflight official, has joined Elon Musk’s SpaceX after retiring from the agency two weeks ago.
Lueders’ role will be general manager, working out of the company’s “Starbase” facility in Texas, and reporting directly to SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.
It’s a major hire for SpaceX as the company aims to make the massive Starship rocket safe to carry people in the coming years. Lueders, a respected expert in the sector, is already familiar with the company’s human spaceflight work thus far.
A SpaceX Starship lifts off from the launch pad during a test flight from Starbase in Boca Chica, Texas, on April 20, 2023.
Patrick T Fallon | AFP | Getty Images
SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on Lueders’ hiring.
Subscribe here to receive weekly issues of the CNBC Investing in Space newsletter.
Lueders retired from NASA at the end of April, after 31 years with the agency. Before leading NASA’s human spaceflight program, she oversaw the culmination of the Commercial Crew Program as Director, including the first SpaceX missions to carry NASA astronauts.
Earlier this year and shortly before retiring, SpaceX completed the launch of its sixth operational crew for NASA – completing its initial contract for the agency. The company has taken additional awards for eight other manned missions.
Notably, Lueders is following in the footsteps of one of her recent predecessors at NASA, William Gerstenmaier, who joined SpaceX in 2020 after more than a decade as the agency’s chief human spaceflight officer. Gerstenmaier is now SpaceX’s Vice President of Construction and Flight Reliability.
Correction: The headlines and photo caption on this story have been updated to correct the spelling of Kathy Lueders’ name.