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Gwynne Shotwell is living proof that you don’t need a space suit to be a space pioneer. Itching to build something after a decade’s work in the policy and analytical segments of the space sector, she jumped into the fledgling commercial space arena, becoming one of SpaceX’s earliest employees in 2002. As vice president for business development, Shotwell built the Falcon manifest to more than 70 launches, together valuing more than $10 billion.

She rose swiftly to her current role of president and chief operating officer, and under her guidance, SpaceX became the first commercial company to launch, orbit and recover a spacecraft, and the first to launch and recover astronauts.

She is not only a quintessential engineer with a passion to build things, but also a “people engineer” who thrives on working with colleagues and customers. Gwynne Shotwell is helping to launch our future, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Sullivan is a former NASA astronaut

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