"We are aiming to be able to drop Starship on the lunar surface in 2022," SpaceX ($SPACEX) president Gwynne Shotwell told listeners on a NASA teleconference November 18.

Starship, the SpaceX craft that's one day destined for Mars colonization, is currently in its prototype phase. However, hiring activity at the Elon Musk's startup suggests that things are moving forward — quickly — just in time for the private space company's eligibility to delivery robotic payloads to the lunar surface for NASA.

Job titles with the term "Starship" in their titles grew from just 11 in September to 30 this week. This comes as overall hiring at the company is seeing a massive 2019 swell of its own.

The new "Starship" roles are located across SpaceX's various facilities, with 13 in Cape Canaveral, 10 in Brownsville, TX, and 7 at SpaceX's Hawthorne, CA headquarters.

Openings at SpaceX reached 512 positions as of this week — the highest it's been since at least 2018. That comes after a sustained hiring acceleration period that began in early 2019. Since January 25, 2019, job listings at SpaceX have grown 258%.

Since January 25, 2019, job listings at SpaceX have grown 258%.

The surge in Starship job listings is potentially more interesting as hiring for other craft groups remains steady, or even down over time.

Openings with the term "Falcon" in their titles is down to 7 after the group was hiring for 19 positions back in June of 2017.

The "Dragon" group has 28 openings, down from 41 in June of 2018.

The overall trend is likely just a reflection of the various spacecraft groups as they move from research, to deveopment, to deployment over time. Overall, SpaceX's move into production is refelcted in how demand across its self-named divisions has changed over time. 

The bar graph above shows that, in the past quarter, for the first time, Vehicle Engineering has become the most-common job category at SpaceX's careers site, outpacing Production this quarter and Supply Chain Management in earlier 2019.

About the Data: 

Thinknum tracks companies using information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

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