Gwynne Shotwell

Gwynne Shotwell (née Rowley; born November 23, 1963) is an American businesswoman and engineer. She is the president and chief operating officer of SpaceX, an American space transportation company, where she's responsible for day-to-day operations and company growth.[1]

Gwynne Shotwell
Gwynne Shotwell at 2018 Commercial Crew announcement.jpg
Shotwell in August 2018
Gwynne Rowley

(1963-11-23) November 23, 1963 (age 57)
Alma materNorthwestern University (BS, MS)
Known forThe Aerospace Corporation, Microcosm Inc, SpaceX
TitlePresident and chief operating officer of SpaceX

As of 2020, she is listed as the 49th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.[2] Shotwell is included in Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People of 2020.[3]

Early lifeEdit

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


Shotwell originally planned to work in the automotive industry and was enrolled in Chrysler Corporation's management training program but desired a more 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 Corporation 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, as vice president of business development, also being given a seat on the SpaceX board of directors. She was its eleventh employee.[6] 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.[7]

In December 2010, SpaceX became the first private company to successfully launch, orbit, and recover a spacecraft. It also has a multibillion-dollar contract with NASA to deliver astronauts and science instruments to the International Space Station (ISS). On May 30, 2020, SpaceX became the first private company to launch two astronauts to Earth orbit.[8] SpaceX is also working on a next-generation transportation system to take people to Mars in the near future.

On February 6, 2019, Polaris Industries announced that Shotwell would join their board of directors on March 1, 2019.[9]

Shotwell participates in a variety of STEM related programs, including the Small Satellite Conference Frank J. Redd Student Competition.

Public outreachEdit

Shotwell gave a TEDx Talk at TEDxChapmanU in June 2013 on the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.[10] 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 on private entrepreneurial accomplishments in advancing spaceflight technology.[11]

At the 2018 TED conference, Shotwell was interviewed by Chris Anderson about the future plans of SpaceX.[12]

At the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing on September 28, 2018, Shotwell's talk was titled "Launching Our Future" and she discussed her vision and advancements for aerospace technology, as well as why diversity and the inclusion of women are necessary for us to advance as a society.[13]

Personal lifeEdit

Shotwell is married to Robert Shotwell, an engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She has two children from her first marriage to Leon Gurevich.[14]

Honors and awardsEdit


  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. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
  3. ^ "Gwynne Shotwell: The 100 Most Influential People of 2020". Time. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d "How I Made It: SpaceX exec Gwynne Shotwell". Los Angeles Times. June 7, 2013.
  5. ^ Strube, Frank (April 21, 2014). "It all Started with a Suit: The Story Behind Shotwell's Rise to SpaceX - Via Satellite -". Via Satellite. Retrieved April 20, 2017.
  6. ^ Gwynne Shotwell | Closing Plenary | SkollWF 2018, retrieved April 18, 2018
  7. ^ SpaceX AsiaSat8 Launch Press Kit (PDF), August 2014, p. 15
  8. ^ Business, Jackie Wattles, CNN (May 30, 2020). "SpaceX and NASA launch Crew Dragon in Florida: Live updates". CNN. Retrieved May 31, 2020.
  9. ^ "Gwynne Shotwell Appointed to Polaris Industries Inc. Board of Directors". Polaris Industries.
  10. ^ "Engineering America: Gwynne Shotwell at TEDxChapmanU". Youtube. TEDx Talks. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ TED (May 14, 2018), SpaceX's plan to fly you across the globe in 30 minutes | Gwynne Shotwell, retrieved May 16, 2018
  13. ^ GHC (December 17, 2018), Gwynne Shotwell — Launching Our Future | Gwynne Shotwell, retrieved March 24, 2019
  14. ^ ŠVANCARA ·, VLASTIMIL. "Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO". ElonX.
  15. ^ "2017 Satellite Executive of the Year: Gwynne Shotwell, President and COO, SpaceX". Retrieved March 29, 2018.
  16. ^ "Gwynne Shotwell". Forbes.
  17. ^ "Gwynne Shotwell: The 100 Most Influential People of 2020". Time. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  18. ^ "A Conversation With Gwynne Shotwell, 2020 Satellite Executive of the Year". Retrieved May 1, 2021.

External linksEdit

  • Shotwell, Gwynne (February 3, 2016). Gwynne Shotwell comments at Commercial Space Transportation Conference. Commercial Spaceflight. Event occurs at 2:43:15–3:10:05. Retrieved February 4, 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.