scorecardSpaceX VP Hans Koenigsmann, one of Elon Musk's earliest hires, is retiring and will be replaced by a former NASA official
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SpaceX VP Hans Koenigsmann, one of Elon Musk's earliest hires, is retiring and will be replaced by a former NASA official

Kate Duffy   

SpaceX VP Hans Koenigsmann, one of Elon Musk's earliest hires, is retiring and will be replaced by a former NASA official
Tech1 min read
Hans Koenigsmann, VP at SpaceX.    KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images
  • SpaceX's seventh hire, Hans Koenigsmann, on Tuesday said he planned to retire as vice president.
  • William Gerstenmaier, a former NASA official who joined SpaceX in 2020, will take his place.
  • In a staff memo seen by CNBC, Koenigsmann said working for Elon Musk was the honor of a lifetime.

The SpaceX vice president Hans Koenigsmann, who was CEO Elon Musk's seventh hire at the company, said Tuesday that he planned to retire.

He told staff he'd be replaced by William Gerstenmaier, a former NASA official who joined the space company a year ago.

In a memo to SpaceX employees in late January that was seen by CNBC, Koenigsmann said he had been thinking about retirement and decided the time was right to pass on the role.

Koenigsmann said he would work part time as a technical advisor on the quality and reliability of SpaceX's engineering. He described working for Musk as the honor of a lifetime.

During Gerstenmaier's four decades at NASA, he served as the associate administrator for human exploration and operations - the top job for leading NASA's human-spaceflight programs - for nearly 14 years.

SpaceX didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Insider about Koenigsmann's retirement plans.

Read more: Leaked FAA document reveals SpaceX wants to build its own rocket-fuel power plants in Texas

Koenigsmann, a German aerospace engineer, was Musk's seventh overall hire and fourth technical hire at the space venture. He joined in 2002, the year SpaceX was founded, and has been in charge of many of the company's missions and launches.

Before joining SpaceX, he obtained a doctorate in aerospace engineering and production technology at the University of Bremen.

In 2014, he was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal for his contribution to the space industry.

Koenigsmann told NASA historians in 2013 that he met Musk at a rocket launch in California's Mojave desert, after which Musk came to his house to interview him because SpaceX had no office.

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