Ex-NASA boss Kathy Lueders joins SpaceX to oversee Starship rocket development

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Ex-NASA boss Kathy Lueders joins SpaceX to oversee Starship rocket development

WASHINGTON Reuters - Elon Musk's SpaceX has hired Kathy Lueders, NASA's former human spaceflight boss, to help oversee the development of the company's moon and Mars rocket called Starship, a person familiar with the hire said on Monday.

The second former astronaut spaceflight chief to retire from NASA and move to SpaceX in recent years, Lueders represents another key hire for the company, as it races to develop and use Starship for landing NASA astronauts on the moon within the next decade.

Who confirmed the hiring of Lueders, according to CNBC, on condition of anonymity. SpaceX did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

He worked for NASA for 31 years and retired in April. In 2021, she was NASA's source selection official who selected SpaceX's Starship rocket for a $3 billion Artemis contract to land the first U.S. astronauts on the moon since 1972. Private moon landers from other companies will be selected in a later contract program.

A group of officials credited with leading the U.S. space agency's shift to public-private contracting models, a cost-effective approach under which NASA helps fund the development of private spacecraft and purchases rides for astronauts as a service, instead of managing the spacecraft as the spacecraft owner.

Lueders, head of NASA's human spaceflight wing, has led the development of SpaceX's Crew Dragon, the company's top cargo and astronaut taxi, that has become the agency's primary ride to and from the International Space Station.

In 2021, a major agency reorganization moved Lueders away from overseeing the moon program and placed her as NASA's space operations chief, a post with oversight over ISS activities.

In 2020, Lueders will join NASA's former chief executive Bill Gerstenmaier, who retired in 2020 from the agency as its human spaceflight chief and join SpaceX for a similar role.