SpaceX shakes up Starship leadership in Texas as push for the rocket’s next milestone intensifies

by | Nov 11, 2022 | Business

An aerial view of a Starship prototype stacked on a Super Heavy booster at the company’s Starbase facility outside of Brownsville, Texas.SpaceXWhile Elon Musk earns daily headlines over changes at Twitter, a significant reorganization is underway at his space company’s Texas launch facility.SpaceX president and COO Gwynne Shotwell and vice president Mark Juncosa – two of the most influential executives at the company aside from Musk himself – are now overseeing the facility and operations of the company’s Starbase location, people familiar with the situation told CNBC.Senior director of Starship operations Shyamal Patel is leaving the site to move to the company’s Cape Canaveral facilities, after spending more than two years working on the next-generation rocket in Texas, those people said. Patel was previously based at the Cape, before a promotion and move to Starbase.The space venture also quietly brought on Omead Afshar, a Texas-based Tesla operations lead, as a vice president of Starship production.The Information previously reported the new responsibilities for Shotwell and Juncosa, while Bloomberg first reported the addition of Afshar. SpaceX did not immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment on the reorganization.SpaceX has steadily built up its facility known as Starbase, outside the city of Brownsville in Texas, which serves as the main hub for development, testing and launches of its nearly 400-foot-tall Starship rocket. The rocket is designed to carry cargo and people beyond Earth and is critical to NASA’s plan to return astronauts to the moon, with SpaceX having won a nearly $3 billion contract from the agency in 2021.The appointments demonstrate the sense of urgency within the company to get Starship flying. Both Shotwell and Juncosa have been at SpaceX since its early days under Musk.Sign up here to receive weekly editions of CNBC’s Investing in Space newsletter.Juncosa visited Starbase over the summer for what was supposed to be a two-week stint, one of the people familiar told CNBC, to bring a new perspective and update Musk and Shotwell on the progress of development at the site.That person called Juncosa’s findings alarming, with an orbital launch attempt further away tha …

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