Joe Bussenger

2024 Award Recipient


Joe Bussenger '13 grew up in Perkasie, Pennsylvania where at a young age showed passion for motorsports and rockets. By age ten Bussenger was determined to be an aerospace engineer and through the support of his family, he was able to participate in science and industrial fairs to strengthen this passion.

Bussenger attended the Florida Institute of Technology in 2009 after learning about the university through the International Science and Engineering Fair from which Bussenger earned third place for rocket-oriented research.

As a freshman and sophomore, Bussenger interned with Northop Grumman’s rocket system launch program where he supported propulsion testing for the United States’ aging minuteman and peacekeeper assets. During his junior year, Bussenger went on to become an engineering intern at SpaceX in Cape Canaveral and continued his internship while being a full-time student in his junior and senior years.

After graduating with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering, Bussenger continued to work at SpaceX as one of the first dedicated engineers to recovery and landing operations. Bussenger was the lead engineer for SpaceX’s first Falcon 9 landing and announced to the world “The Falcon Has Landed” during that historic mission.

Over ten years at SpaceX, Bussenger was the primary landing controller for over 100 Falcon 9 landings, oversaw cargo and astronaut recovery, and managed varying groups including recovery and launch control.

Bussenger departed SpaceX as the Director of Recovery Operations in 2022 and joined Relativity Space as a Principal Operations Engineer before becoming the Director of Launch Operations and the Florida Site Director.

Bussenger lives in Viera, FL and in his free time enjoys playing hockey, motorsports, working on cars, and traveling.


Florida Tech - B.S. in Aerospace Engineering