Virgin Galactic Taps Former NASA Chief of Staff as CEO

George T. Whitesides
George T. Whitesides (Image credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON — George Whitesides, who recentlystepped down as chief of staff to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, will takethe helm at commercial space venture Virgin Galactic as the New Mexico-basedcompany?s first chief executive.

Whitesides, who previously served on U.S.President Barack Obama?s NASA transition team and who was one the president?sfirst political appointments to the space agency, is tasked with transitioningVirgin Galactic from a development project to a fully operationalcommercial firm.

?I am honored to be given the opportunity tolead this historic business which will open the experience of space travel topeople around the world,? Whitesides, the former executive director of theNational Space Society and adviser to the emerging space tourism company, saidin a May 17 news release. ?There is much to achieve at Virgin Galactic over thecoming years as the company moves from the extensive test flying program and[Federal Aviation Administration] licensing process into commercial operationof frequent spaceflights from our new home at Spaceport America in New Mexico.?

Virgin Galactic aims to carry payingpassengers to the edge of space in the air-launched SpaceShipTwo suborbitalspacecraft currently under development at Scaled Composites in Mojave, Calif.SpaceShipTwo and its WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft are currently undergoingtesting.

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SpaceNews Staff Writer

Amy Klamper is a space reporter and former staff writer for the space industry news publication SpaceNews. From 2004 to 2010, Amy covered U.S. space policy, NASA and space industry professionals for SpaceNews. Her stories included profiles on major players in the space industry, space policy work in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, as well as national policy set by the White House.