Why SpaceX is winning the race

An unidentified administrator of the University of Michigan space engineering program has some interesting thoughts on why SpaceX has been so successful. Key quote:

I recently performed an analysis of the very best students in my space engineering programs over the past decade, based on their scholarly, leadership and entrepreneurial performance at Michigan. To my amazement, I found that of my top 10 students, five work at SpaceX. No other company or lab has attracted more than two of these top students.

I also noticed that SpaceX recruited only two of them directly from the university. The others were drawn to the company after some years of experience elsewhere—joining SpaceX despite lower salaries and longer work hours. Why do they leave successful jobs in big companies to join a risky space startup? A former student told me, “This is a place where I am the limiting factor, not my work environment.” At SpaceX, he considers himself to be in an entrepreneurial environment in which great young people collaborate to do amazing things. He never felt like this in his previous job with an aerospace company.


  • Kelly Starks

    Wonder how they’ll react if SpaceX folds?

    SpaceX is highly focused no somewhat nonsensical goals – like commercial Mars colonization – and in the short term competing for things like crew carry to Biggelow and ISS space stations. But if the later markets develop to any scale, it will attract more capable big firms (like Boeing lately) into the markets. SpaceX lacks the resources and sophistication (not to mention commercial reputation) the others do. So I’ld expect something like what happened with the Xprize. Lots of small alt.space teams entered – but as soon as Rutan adn Scaled Composites entered, all the investor interest in the alt.spacers evaporated.

  • It’d be great if this person had identified himself. I wonder if it was just an oversight.

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