Today, SpaceX announced that Jeff Ward will join the company as Vice President of Avionics, Guidance, and Control. SpaceX picks up Dr. Ward from Surrey Satellite Technology Ltd. (SSTL), where he was Managing Director and a member of the Board of Directors. There is an established relationship between the two companies, with SpaceX owning 10% of SSTL. I wonder whether Dr. Ward is going with SSTL's blessing or if SpaceX is seen as poaching SSTL's top management. In either case, it's not clear what is happening with Hans Koenigsmann, who is still listed on SpaceX's web site as Vice President of Avionics and Systems.
Speaking of Dr. Koenigsmann, a January EETimes.com article quotes him as saying that in 2007, SpaceX seeks to double its staff of electrical engineers -- from 35 to 70. As I have expressed in the past, I wonder at what size it becomes necessary to ratchet up bureaucracy. It seems like SpaceX envisions a scale of operations that includes more like 600+ employees. Is this consistent with lean, inexpensive spaceflight? Dr. Koenigsmann does say that he doesn't "have a hard budget [for avionics], but we hope to have recurring flight costs of just a few million dollars and initial development costs . . . of less than $25 million." At least he doesn't have a hard budget, which strikes me as a luxury and responsibility that few, if any others in the industry have.