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For Immediate Release

Katja Sipple

Mail: [email protected]
Phone: 202.467.5000
The German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA®

German-American Heritage Museum of the USA™

The German-American Heritage Museum of the USA™ opened in March, 2010 in a building once known as Hockemeyer Hall. Renovations were completed by the GAHF after acquiring the building in 2008. Located on 6th Street NW in the heart of the old European-American section of Washington, the Museum sits in what is now a thriving commercial neighborhood.

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Washington, D.C., June 28, 2023

Hans-Jörg Königsmann of SpaceX to be Presented with 2023 Distinguished German American of the Year Award 

“Hans’s seminal contributions to our industry are comparable only to those of such luminaries as Kelly Johnson, Max Faget, and Wernher von Braun. They cannot be overstated. Despite his well-earned success, Hans is universally lauded for his poise and humility, and we are all fortunate for his continued influence on our field.”

            – Andy Lapsa, CEO & Co-founder of Stoke Space

Washington, DC, June 28, 2023 – The German-American Heritage Foundation is honored to announce that Hans-Jörg Königsmann, the former Vice President of Flight Reliability and Build at SpaceX, will receive the 2023 Distinguished German American of the Year Award at a formal gala on Saturday, Oct. 7 at The Willard Hotel in Washington, DC.

This award from GAHF recognizes him for his vision, dedication, and technical expertise as a German-trained aerospace engineer which propelled SpaceX from its humble beginnings as a startup to unprecedented heights including the achievement of bringing American astronauts back into space as part of American missions. Königsmann who studied aerospace engineering at the Technical University of Berlin, followed by a PhD in Aerospace Engineering and Production Technology at the University of Bremen, joined SpaceX in 2002 as the fourth technical employee after having met its founder Elon Musk at a rocket launch in the Mojave Desert. 

His work was focused on the Falcon launches, ensuring the safe completion of SpaceX missions. The Falcon series, which include the company’s highly successful Falcon 9, a medium-lift and partially reusable launch vehicle that can carry cargo and personnel into orbit, became a big success, and has been the U.S. rocket with the most launches and the best safety record. After its first lift-off in June 2010, it flew a resupply mission to the International Space Station on Oct. 8, 2012. NASA and SpaceX entered into a public-private partnership in 2014 with SpaceX receiving NASA certification for crew transportation in November 2020. The seventh SpaceX operational mission in the Commercial Crew Program is scheduled to launch on or after Aug. 15. 

Königsmann announced his retirement from SpaceX in January 2021, but he remains actively involved, and personally attended the Starship prototype test flight on April 20 in Boca Chica, Texas. 

His former colleagues and leading industry experts laud Königsmann for his incredible technical knowledge combined with poise, humility, and a great sense of humor whose contributions to the air and space industry put him on par with such luminaries as Wernher von Braun

Königsmann joins an impressive list of German Americans, including entrepreneur and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, U.S. Ambassador William R. Timken, Jr., the Nobel Prize winner in Medicine Dr. Günter Blobel, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf of Desert Storm fame, Doug Oberhelman, the former chairman and CEO of Caterpillar, Inc., and entrepreneur and philanthropist Philip Frederick Anschutz, whose contributions have been recognized in the past. For almost four decades, GAHF has recognized outstanding leadership and achievement by Americans of German-speaking ancestry in various fields and disciplines; it is the only national society to present such an honor.

For sponsorship information or questions about the gala, please contact Katja Sipple at [email protected].

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