By CATHERINE DONNELLY
Special to the PRESS
A former NASA administrator turned Executive General Manager of Starbase has made it her priority to bridge the gap between SpaceX and its surrounding communities. Recently, she publicly addressed citizens of the lower Laguna Madre to fill them in on SpaceX’s latest successes, concerns and plans for the future.
The South Padre Island Chamber of Commerce hosted guest speaker Kathryn Lueders, Executive General Manager of Starbase, on Thursday, Sept.14, during its monthly installment of the ‘Coffee and Conversation’ breakfast series. The event was held at the Holiday Inn Resort and was presented to a larger-than-normal audience.
Lueders came to SpaceX in mid-May and brings her experience as a retired NASA administrator with many years of heavy involvement in space flight, having overseen several Space Shuttle launches at Cape Canaveral.
Before hiring Lueders, SpaceX and Starbase had not prioritized community outreach, despite it becoming a tourist attraction and internet sensation centering around the rocket launches from Boca Chica. Lueders stated that part of her mission is to better connect Starbase to the surrounding area.
Approximately five years ago, SpaceX had to decide to keep the Boca Chica site as a testing facility or to make it a permanent outpost to produce and launch vehicles. Leuders announced that Starbase was “here to stay.” She further explained their long-range commitment to the Rio Grande Valley.
Lueders said that Elon Musk, founder, chairman, CEO and chief technology officer of SpaceX, has a different way of viewing his company’s role in this industry. For one thing, in contrast to NASA’s modus operandi of doing copious analytics before any launch, the mantra at Starbase is ‘Build-Test-Fly-Learn.’
Every flight gives them a massive amount of data more quickly and accurately than relying on analytic projections. A lot can be learned from successes, but a lot can also be learned from perceived failures as well. Between the three launch sites at Cape Canaveral, Boca Chica and Vandenberg, SpaceX has done more flights in the past two-and-a-half years than NASA achieved in the past 20 years of launches.
News Source: portisabelsouthpadre.com
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