SpaceX chief reassured NASA chief about Elson Musk
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said he saw SpaceX’s face last weekend and wanted to hear only one thing from her in light of Twitter’s tumultuous takeover of Twitter. company owner Elon Musk.
“Tell me that any distraction Elon might have on Twitter won’t affect SpaceX,” Nelson said, recalling the conversation, to Gwynne Shotwell, president and CEO of SpaceX.
“I assure you that’s not the case,” Shotwell replied, according to Nelson. “You have nothing to fear.”
Nelson, who first mentioned the exchange earlier on Sunday after a press conference in Houston, said the meeting took place after the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington DC on Dec. 5 and was completely friendly because he knows Shotwell — not Musk — runs SpaceX.
“I hugged her with a smile on my face, because I know she’s running this thing. She runs SpaceX,” Nelson said.
When asked if he had any concerns about SpaceX, Nelson replied, “No, I don’t.”
NASA pays SpaceX billions to transport astronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station. The company also won the competition to take Americans to the Moon in late 2025 as part of NASA’s Artemis 3 mission.
“That one will go into lunar orbit, and the crew will transfer to a SpaceX lander, and that will come down to the surface of the moon,” Nelson said, praising SpaceX for cutting costs and providing good service “in terms of delivery of both crew and cargo to the International Space Station.”
SpaceX could not immediately be reached for comment on Sunday.
Nelson, a former U.S. senator and House member from Florida, represented the Kennedy Space Center in his former congressional district, and he served on a Space Shuttle Columbia mission as a House member in 1986.
Nelson, a longtime friend and former Senate colleague of President Joe Biden, was chosen to lead NASA last year and has been a spur to public-private space exploration, particularly with SpaceX. Quoting a Ministry of Defense official, Nelson told a Senate panel in May that SpaceX could have saved taxpayers up to $40 billion in launch costs.
Shortly after taking over NASA, Nelson had a major Twitter troll problem, but it had nothing to do with Musk — it was belligerent tweets from NASA chief Dimitry Olegovich Rogozin. Russian space agency, Roscosmos, which suggested that Moscow could crash the International Space Station on Earth or leave an American astronaut behind. Nelson urged calm, and soon Russian President Vladimir Putin replaced Rogozin with Yuri Borisov, whom Nelson calls a “true professional”.
From a space perspective, Nelson said, the relationship with Russia is a “very professional relationship, and it has been that way since 1975, Apollo-Soyuz,” which was the first international crewed space mission between the states. States and Russia, then known as the Soviet Union.
And as for Musk’s tweets, Nelson said he didn’t focus on them beyond the friendly exchange with Shotwell.
“The proof is in the pudding,” Nelson said. “Look at what SpaceX is delivering crew and cargo to the space station.”