SpaceX hires Bill Gerstenmaier as consultant


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SpaceX has hired NASA’s former manager of its human exploration program, Bill Gerstenmaier, as a consultant working with their “reliability team.”.

It appears that SpaceX wants to take advantage of Gerstenmaier’s expertise on human spaceflight as it is about to begin manned Dragon flights. It also appears that Musk wants to return a favor as well, as Gerstenmaier was likely the main person behind the decision to award SpaceX its initial Dragon cargo contract in December 2008. Musk has said repeatedly that this decision in many ways saved his company.

Overall, a wise decision by SpaceX. In his later years at NASA, Gerstenmaier lost sight of the importance of budget and schedule in his management of SLS and Orion, leading to his ouster. However, his knowledge of human spaceflight and the political mechanics needed to do it with NASA is unsurpassed. SpaceX will definitely benefit from this hire.

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7 comments

  • Patrick Underwood

    It’s like hiring Einstein for your physics department–his job description doesn’t matter! :)

  • Col Beausaber

    Into the Swamp we go

  • Patrick Underwood

    If you absolutely have to enter the jungle, it’s best to have an experienced guide.

    Just make sure your guide isn’t secretly working for a slimy French archaeologist.

  • Lee Stevenson

    I can see nothing but good behind this hiring… “Hire a thief to catch a thief” us the phrase that springs to mind!
    I might be socialist when it comes to social care, but regarding business, especially big project business, as long as quality standards are met, public/private partnerships are absolutely the way to go! And hiring a former “insider” seems a very astute move by SpaceX.
    Indeed, given recent events, they look like they are going to hit the ball WAY out of the park!! ( Of course I’m referring to cricket rather than baseball…. It’s an English thing ;-)

  • Edward

    Robert wrote: “In his later years at NASA, Gerstenmaier lost sight of the importance of budget and schedule in his management of SLS and Orion, leading to his ouster.

    As a consultant, this (recent?) flaw in his leadership ability will not matter, as other people will be concerned about budget and schedule. Gerstenmaier can concentrate on technical and policy matters, which are his expertise in the first place.

    Gerstenmaier’s career at NASA was probably limited, but he should be able to make amazing contributions at SpaceX, since his goals and the company’s goals align nicely.

  • Keith Pearson

    Some see good things in this, and I hope it turns out to be so. But I see the very swampy revolving door so prevalent in what our society/government has become. Again, I would love nothing more than to be wrong.

  • Dick Eagleson

    The fact that SpaceX doesn’t seem inclined to put Gerst in charge of running anything is a good sign. The fact that he’s reporting to Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s V.P. of Quality, suggests SpaceX is looking to pick Gerst’s engineering brain. Given that the endgame of getting Dragon 2 ready to carry crew is nearly complete, Gerst’s knowledge of NASA’s hierarchy and folkways is unlikely to be of major importance on that project but could be of some value anent SHS. The latter is being developed without reference to NASA, but Gerst would be a good source for the team that will have to try selling SHS missions to NASA.

    As for “Swamp” stuff, while this is technically a swish of the revolving door it doesn’t look as though Cerst’s new job is going to be Executive Vice President in Charge of Playing Golf with Congresscritters as is the case with so many “retired” government officials who go to work for the legacy primes.

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