WSU News

SpaceX co-founder to discuss lead role in space transport

PULLMAN, Wash. – SpaceX is the world’s first privately held company to send cargo to the International Space Station (ISS). Co-founder Tom Mueller will discuss the company and its history at a free, public lecture at 12:10 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, in the Engineering, Teaching and Research Laboratory (ETRL) 101 at Washington State University. The talk is sponsored by the College of Engineering and Architecture as part of the Lanning Lecture Series.
Mueller, who grew up in St. Maries, Idaho, will discuss his longtime interest in rocketry and how he ended up co-founding Space Exploration Technologies Corporation, or SpaceX, in 2002.
Earlier this year, the company’s Falcon 9 rocket was launched carrying the Dragon capsule, which became the first vehicle from a privately held company to dock at the ISS. SpaceX, headquartered in Hawthorne, Calif., also received a NASA contract to develop the capsule to transport crew to the ISS; the first manned flight is anticipated by 2015.
Mueller, vice president of propulsion engineering, manages more than 100 engineers. He led development of new engine designs at SpaceX, including the Merlin engine and the liquid boost engine for both stages of the Falcon 9 vehicle. He leads development of propulsion systems for the Falcon 9/Dragon vehicles to optimize the reliability and reduce the costs of access to space.
Prior to SpaceX, Mueller worked for 15 years at TRW, where he led the propulsion and combustion products department. He received many awards, including the TRW Chairman’s Award – the most prestigious for technical achievement. He holds four U.S. patents and is author or co-author of several technical papers.
He holds a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from Loyola Marymount University and a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Idaho. 
The WSU Lanning Lecture Series was established in 1988 and is funded by civil engineering alumnus Jack Dillon, ’41, to honor his late wife, Frances Lanning Dillon. The series aims to augment students’ knowledge of the profession beyond the academic dimension.
Tina Hilding, communications coordinator, WSU College of Engineering and Architecture, 509-335-5095,