For Gibson, joining Benson Space is a hoot

The Wall Street Journal reports that former astronaut Robert “Hoot” Gibson will join Benson Space Company as its chief operating officer and head test pilot. (Subscription required) The official announcement may come as early as today. Gibson has been listed as an “advisor” to the company since the company’s launch in late September. Since then, Gibson retired from his post-astronaut career as a pilot for Southwest Airlines when he reach the FAA-mandated retirement age of 60.

The WSJ article states that Gibson had been working with Benson since last year, when Benson, then running SpaceDev, was pursuing the NASA COTS demonstration competition. Benson said that Gibson will be able to fly the company’s Dream Chaser spacecraft “as much as he wants and we can afford” once it’s built.

Hiring Gibson certainly gives Benson Space come addition cachet and credibility, although it’s hardly unprecedented. Rocketplane Ltd, prior to its merger with Kistler Aerospace, hired former astronaut John Herrington as a vice president and test pilot for the XP suborbital vehicle. And just last month Andrews Space announced it had hired former astronaut Wendy Lawrence as a “senior advisor for human spaceflight and crew safety”.

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