Hans met Musk in the Mojave Desert and has been at the company since its inception
Who Is Hans Koenigsmann, The German Engineer Who Ensures The Safety and Success of SpaceX Missions?
SpaceX has in a way reinvigorated what was a fading Space Industry. The Space industry was going through a period of stagnation in terms of technological advancement until 2002 when Elon Musk decided to build cheap launch vehicles with the ultimate goal of making humanity multi-planetary species.
Musk is without a doubt the face of SpaceX. One of his less-known talents is the ability to spot talent. Musk did it at Paypal with Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, before transferring these skills to his new startup, SpaceX. Musk has built a team that has churned out achievements after achievements.
Very little information is written about the other executives that do a wonderful job. Today, we profile Hans Koenigsmann, the German engineer that has been at the company since 2002 in various positions.
Hans Jorg Koenigsmann, born in Germany, is an aerospace engineer who is currently SpaceX’s Vice President of Mission Assurance. Hans’ roles include ensuring the safety and the success of SpaceX missions.
Hans graduated from the Technical University of Berlin in 1989 with a degree in aerospace engineering before getting a Ph.D. from the University of Bremen in 1995 in AerospaceEngineering and Production Technology.
He then worked as head of the Space Technology Division of Germany’s Centre for Applied Space Technology and Microgravity at the University of Bremen. He led the team that was responsible for the development and operation of the satellite BREMSAT. After its successful launch and the end of production one year later, he left for California to work at Microcosm.
At Microcosm, he worked as the Chief Scientist and Flight Systems Manager for their Scorpious suborbital launch vehicles. He led the team that built the vehicle’s avionics, guidance, and control systems as well as support the thrust vector control development.
He also helped to develop the satellite attitude control systems using various control concepts like wheels and magnetic torques and received a US Patent.
Hans met Musk at a rocketry club launch in the Mojave Desert. He then left Microcosm when Musk founded SpaceX. He was the company’s 4th employee. While leaving Microcosm, he was taken out on a going-away dinner by a workmate, Gwynne Shotwell, who also drove him to the SpaceX offices. Hans encouraged Shotwell to go in and talk to Musk, and this was when Shotwell suggested that SpaceX need a business person at the company. Shotwell ended up joining Hans as the company’s 7th employee.
He started out as the Vice President of Avionics and led the company’s avionics department, software, guidance, and control. After the third Falcon 1 flight, he became the Launch Chief Engineer. In 2011, he was promoted to the role of Vice President of Mission Assurance which he still holds up to this day.
He was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2014, This is the highest form of recognition by NASA for non-government individuals.