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Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Why did SpaceX Beat Boeing in the Space Race? Perhaps it’s also the Pay

Heavy lifters

(Photo : NASA) Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida that will launch SpaceX's Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets.

Why do all those smart people at SpaceX work so hard to achieve those incredible things such as building the Dragon V2 spacecraft that will be the first American-built spacecraft to take the astronauts into space since 2011? And beating Boeing and its CTS-100 in the process.

Or landing a first stage Falcon 9 rocket on a floating drone barge in the Atlantic twice?

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No, it's not the privilege of working for Elon Musk, although that's a plus. It's those sky-high salaries Musk pays all those smart people.

SpaceX has just won the New Space Race to build the first American spacecraft capable of transporting astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), Mars, the asteroids and the Moon.

The first crewed flight for SpaceX's Dragon V2 spacecraft will fly astronauts to the ISS in April 2017. Boeing's CTS-100 will take the first astronauts to the ISS in February 2018.

And how high is sky-high at SpaceX? Think over $108,000 a month basic salary for aerospace engineers on the high-end ($68,000 low-end), according to PayScale, the popular online salary, benefits and compensation firm. Similarly high salaries in SpaceX were also reported by Glassdoor, a competitor of PayScale.

If you're lucky enough to make it into SpaceX, the salary of an Avionics Technician ranges from $34,754 to $71,390; a Mechanical Engineer from $54,056 to $108,688 and a Manufacturing Engineer from $60,707 to $125,975.

Bonuses and profit disbursements increase these basic salaries. Perks include 401(k) and Stock Options, said PayScale. 

Glassdoor reported these average monthly salaries at SpaceX: Software Engineer, $109,890; Launch Engineer, $92,068; Engineer, $83,671; Avionics Engineer, $79,909; Structures Engineer, $82,445 and Test Engineer, $76,867. Interns make $4,596 a month.

PayScale reported that 86 percent of employees at SpaceX are men and 14 percent women. Monthly pay for women ranged from $52,381 to $86,394. On the other hand, men were paid from $60,593 to $101,408 a month.

The pay at The Boeing Company is better than at SpaceX considering Boeing's massive resources and breadth of business. Boeing pays its Mechanical Engineers from $58,630 to $120,061 a month; Software Engineers from $58,606 to $130,695 and Electrical Engineers from $63,505 to $150,127. 

So, that leaves open the question of pay being the decisive factor.        

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