NASA Director is glad that Elon Musk is not leading SpaceX

Despite the controversial owner of the company, NASA eventually relies on SpaceX as a reliable partner. According to agency director Bill Nelson, this is mainly because SpaceX is not run by Elon Musk.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. Photo:

In an interview with NPR, NASA director Bill Nelson explained his position regarding Musk, whose company receives multibillion-dollar government contracts from NASA. 

“Elon Musk’s decision-making has come under a lot of scrutiny in recent years when it comes to some of his other companies, Twitter and Tesla. Are you concerned that so much of this plan is in the hands of Elon Musk at this point in time?” interviewer Scott Detrow asked Nelson.

“Elon Musk… one of the most important decisions he made, as a matter of fact, is he picked a president named Gwynne Shotwell. She runs SpaceX. She is excellent. And so I have no concerns,” Nelson replied.

This is not the first time Nelson has expressed similar thoughts about the owner of SpaceX. A few months after Musk bought the social network Twitter, which was then renamed X, Nelson expressed his relief in an interview with NBC News when discussing it with Shotwell.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk smokes cannabis on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast. Illustration: YouTube/The Joe Rogan Experience

“I asked her if Musk’s acquisition of Twitter would affect SpaceX. Shotwell assured me that it did not harm the company, and he had nothing to worry about. “I hugged her with a smile on my face, because I know she is running that thing,” Nelson recalled.

However, former NASA deputy director Laurie Garver, in her memoirs published in 2022, said that Nelson, before heading NASA, was very critical of Musk. In the book Escaping Gravity: My Quest to Transform NASA and Launch a New Space Age, Garver recalled how Nelson, as a senator, was in opposition to SpaceX, and did not even hold back his emotions when he demanded to “rein in the boy Elon.” 

Although Nelson has become less critical of Musk publicly, he has shown hostility towards him from time to time. Given the significant amounts NASA invests in SpaceX, of course, it is understandable that the management is concerned about Elon Musk’s adventurous disposition and his penchant for risks.

Earlier, we reported on how SpaceX neglected the health of employees for the sake of profit.

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