SpaceX’s COO takes home the executive of the year as Northrop Grumman wins technology of the year

SpaceX’s COO takes home the executive of the year as Northrop Grumman wins technology of the year

Via Satellite’s annual awards went down on April 5, 2021, where readers and the editorial team vote for their favorite contestants in the satellite technology space. The executive of the year award went to SpaceX‘s chief operations officer (COO), Gwynne Shotwell, who won the prize for the second time. Northrop Grumman grabbed the Technology of the year award thanks to its daughter company’s breakthrough in mission extension services.

SpaceLogistics LLC, Northrop Grumman’s subsidiary, demonstrated a mission extension technology by docking its MEV-1 satellite with Intelsat’s old satellite, Intelsat 901, in Geostationary Orbit (GEO). This demonstration was the first time that two satellites docked together in orbit. MEV-1 will service the Intelsat satellite to extend its lifespan by five more years before the old spacecraft can be decommissioned to the graveyard orbit.

Shotwell’s victory came from advancement and technological success seen in 2020 for SpaceX despite the Covid-19 pandemic that made working consistently almost impossible. Last year was a very good year for the aerospace company, mainly in the launch sector, with a record of twenty-six launches. “2020- What a weird and, I would normally say, terrible tear. The global community tried to figure out how to function and survive during a global pandemic. And yet, SpaceX was able to operate and do extraordinary things last year,” said Shotwell in her acceptance speech.

SpaceX also returned crewed missions to the US space industry in collaboration with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). In May last year, the two performed a test flight to the International Space Station with the Crew Demo mission. “I’m going to accept this award, again in 2020-not for myself-but for the extraordinary people at SpaceX that did such extraordinary things in such a weirdo year,’ said Shotwell.

In 2017, Shotwell won the same award for SpaceX’s developments in reusable rocket technology. Her close competitor, Iridium’s CEO Matt Desch, congratulated her via Twitter, saying she is a good choice for the prestigious award. On the other hand, Northrop Grumman accepted the technology honor saying the company is working on MEV-2 to service yet another satellite.

Joe Anderson, vice president in charge of SpaceLogistics, stated, “It is a pleasure to be honored today and for me to serve the hundreds of males and females at Northrop Grumman who are leading the future of space.” “Our project extension vehicle stories began over ten years ago to introduce a cost-effective, dependable, and stable solution for extending the station’s existence while maintaining aging GEO satellites operational. We’ve solved the innovator’s challenge by starting a new space company in the last ten years, “Anderson said. “Not only did we build the revolutionary MEV during this period, but we also prepared the way for new forms of space services across legislative and insurance worlds.”