top of page
Gwynne & Trophy

Gwynne Shotwell was awarded the 2023 Green Sands Prize for her contributions to the Space Industry & STEM.

Gwynne Shotwell


Shotwell is the President & Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX, as well as a member of the Board of Directors. Under her leadership, SpaceX has achieved numerous milestones, including the historic launch of astronauts to the International Space Station. Additionally, she oversaw the first landing of an orbital rocket's first stage on land and on an ocean platform, the first relaunch and landing of a used orbital rocket, the first controlled flyback and recovery of a payload fairing, and the first re-flight of a commercial cargo spacecraft. Prior to joining SpaceX, she spent more than 10 years at the Aerospace Corporation, holding positions in Space Systems Engineering, Technology, and Project Management. She was promoted to the role of Chief Engineer of an MLV-class satellite program, managed a landmark study for the Federal Aviation Administration on commercial space transportation, and completed an extensive analysis of space policy for NASA’s future investment in space transportation.

Shotwell's influence extends beyond SpaceX. She serves on various boards and committees, lending her expertise to shape the future of aerospace. Her insights and perspectives are sought after in discussions about the future of space exploration and its role in society. Beyond her technical and business accomplishments, Shotwell is celebrated for her influential role in promoting diversity and inclusion within the STEM fields. Her advocacy for education and her inspirational leadership serve as a beacon, encouraging young minds, especially women, to pursue careers in science and engineering. In her personal life, Shotwell is known for her down-to-earth demeanor and approachability despite her high-profile role. She often speaks about balancing her demanding career with personal interests and family life, serving as an inspiration for work-life balance in high-pressure industries. 

Gwynne Shotwell's contributions to humanity extend beyond her impressive resume; she symbolizes progress, equality, and the limitless potential of individuals in the pursuit of groundbreaking achievements.


The 2023 Prize was focused on the Space industry. In the current era, the importance of the Space industry cannot be overstated, as it has become a pivotal element in advancing technology, fostering economic growth, and expanding human knowledge. The industry, once dominated by national space agencies, has evolved into a dynamic field with significant private sector participation, leading to groundbreaking innovations and new opportunities. Moreover, the industry has become a symbol of human aspiration, inspiring future generations to pursue science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) careers. Space missions evoke a sense of wonder and curiosity, crucial for fostering a culture of innovation and discovery. The space industry plays a critical role in many areas including: global connectivity, earth observation, climate change, national security, space tourism, scientific research in zero gravity, planetary defense, and the long-term survival of humanity.

The distinguished nomination committee consisted of Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, the longest running Science Mission Director at NASA, Dr. Dava Newman, the Director of MIT Media Lab, along with the Girls In Science 4 SDGs, and Reema Khan, Chairman of Green Sands. The committee unanimously selected Gwynne Shotwell as the 2023 recipient of the Inspiration Prize.

bottom of page