SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell
SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell

At a NASA press conference Jan. 26 to discuss the U.S. space agency’s commercial crew transportation efforts, SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said that SpaceX anticipated performing at least 50 launches of its Falcon 9 rocket before the first test flight of a Dragon spacecraft carrying crew, planned for early 2017.

During a question-and-answer session that followed, one reporter asked Shotwell if that estimated number of Falcon 9 launches included Air Force missions that the company might win as a result of a settlement the Air Force and SpaceX reached Jan. 23, about which neither side has revealed many details.

Shotwell, in her response, indicated no desire to get into trouble with the government by offering more details about that settlement.

Much of the agreement between the Air Force and SpaceX remains embargoed, and orange is not going to be the new black for Shotwell. 

“So I can tell you that we did not anticipate a huge number of Air Force missions in my 50-flight assessment prior to flying crew, but we were obviously pleased with the outcome of the discussions.”


Jeff Foust writes about space policy, commercial space, and related topics for SpaceNews. He earned a Ph.D. in planetary sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a bachelor’s degree with honors in geophysics and planetary science...