George T. Whitesides is the CEO of Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson’s human spaceflight venture, and The Spaceship Company, a manufacturer of advanced space vehicles. With its innovative spacecraft, the company seeks to transform access to space to change the world for good.Read More
Prior to Virgin Galactic, George served as Chief of Staff for NASA. Upon departure from the American space agency, he received the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award the agency confers.
George serves as co-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Space Technologies. He is a member of Caltech’s Space Innovation Council and Princeton University’s Advisory Council for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He is a fellow of the UK Royal Aeronautical Society and an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
He previously chaired the Reusable Launch Vehicle Working Group for the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, and served on the Board of Trustees of Princeton University and the board of Virgin Unite USA.
George has testified on American space policy before the United States Senate, the United States House of Representatives, and the President’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy.
An honors graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, George later earned a master’s degree in geographic information systems and remote sensing from the University of Cambridge, and a Fulbright Scholarship to Tunisia. George is a licensed private pilot and certified parabolic flight coach.
He resides in Lancaster, California with his wife Loretta and two children.
Mike oversees the commercial human spaceflight program. He leads the team in all aspects of safe and successful spaceline operations, including WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo vehicle processing, flight planning, astronaut training, and flight crew operations.Read More
Mike came to Virgin Galactic following a distinguished career with NASA. From 2008 through July 2011, he served at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as the Launch Integration Manager, where he led all space shuttle processing activities from landing through launch. Mike also chaired the Mission Management Team where he provided ultimate shuttle launch decision authority. Other NASA experience includes working as a Flight Director at the Johnson Space Center, where he led teams of flight controllers in the planning, training, and execution of space shuttle missions. Before being selected as a Flight Director in 2005, Mike had more than 10 years of experience as a flight controller in the Shuttle Propulsion and Electrical Systems Groups.
Mike attended Purdue University, earning a bachelor’s degree in physics and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering. He also earned a master’s degree in space sciences from Florida Institute of Technology. He is a two-time recipient of the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, as well as other NASA commendations and awards.
Doug oversees the design, manufacturing, and test operations of Virgin Galactic’s fleet of SpaceShipTwo spaceships and WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft through our sister company, The Spaceship Company (TSC).Read More
Prior to his position with TSC, Doug had a 31-year career at Scaled Composites where he conducted the first flights of eight different aircraft and led Scaled’s acquisition of an FAA Commercial Launch License for SpaceShipOne, the first-ever crewed commercial licensed launch. In addition to serving as Director of Flight Operations, Doug served for many years as Vice President of Business Development, increasing Scaled’s revenue more than tenfold. Doug became President of Scaled following the retirement of company founder and aerospace legend Burt Rutan.
Doug holds a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from The University of Kansas and numerous awards, including the Iven C. Kincheloe and James H. Doolittle awards from the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, as well as the Robert J. Collier Trophy. Doug has also served as President of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP).
Stephen is the Commercial Director for Virgin Galactic, joining the company as its first full-time employee in 2004, with responsibility for laying the commercial foundations and framework for the organization, including spearheading ongoing sales, business development, marketing, public relations, licensing, partnerships, and customer retention initiatives. Stephen is a regular speaker at numerous industry and other conferences and events on behalf of Virgin Galactic.Read More
Prior to joining Virgin Galactic, Stephen worked for Gartmore Investment Management, a major London-based investment management firm, where he performed a number of management and senior management activities for more than 15 years. At Gartmore, his roles focused on the company’s relationship with sophisticated institutional and high net worth clients and prospective clients.
Jonathan Firth has been a member of Virgin Galactic’s leadership team since its inception in 2004. He joined the company as Project Director, and later moved into the role of Director of Operations and Projects in 2008, and then to the U.S. for his current role as Executive Vice President of Spaceport & Program Development in July 2014.Read More
He oversees the company’s activity to ready itself for commercial operations in New Mexico, including the development of the Suborbital Spaceflight System, the preparations for Operational Readiness and the relationship with the NM Spaceport Authority, which is responsible for the operation of Spaceport America, the future home of Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo fleet.
Jonathan began his Virgin career in the UK in 1998 as Project Director of Virgin Rail Group, where he was responsible for delivery of the Pendolino and Super Voyager tilting train projects on the UK West Coast and CrossCountry networks respectively. After that, he spent three years as Director of Projects at Virgin Atlantic Airways, where he supervised the airline’s portfolio of business-led projects.
Throughout his career in engineering and project management, Jonathan has worked in a diverse array of industries, including oil and gas, petrochemicals, mass transit, main line rail, aviation, and aerospace. He holds an honors degree in mechanical engineering from Imperial College London and an MBA from Henley Business School.
Todd joined Virgin Galactic in 2014 as a pilot of SpaceShipTwo and WhiteKnightTwo. With his experience as a former Safety Director and pilot in the US Air Force, he served in critical safety roles during ground and test flights. Today, Todd’s responsibilities extend across the full range of the company’s activities: the manufacture and testing of both the second SpaceShipTwo and LauncherOne satellite launch vehicle and flights of the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft.Read More
Todd brings 23 years of military and aviation safety experience to the role including service as the Chief of Safety for the US Air Force Test Center, where he was responsible for test, ground, weapons and flight safety for all US Air Force experimental and developmental test programs. Todd also served as Operations and Maintenance Group Commander for the USAF, where he directed performance and safety for over 600 personnel engaged in flight operations and maintenance for 21 diverse aircraft types.
He is a 1991 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, where he earned both a bachelor’s degree and the Langley Award as the Outstanding Cadet in Aeronautical Engineering. He received a master’s degree in Aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland.
A distinguished graduate of every flying program he attended, including winning both the Air Training Command Commander’s Trophy as the top graduate of Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Class 92-07 and the McKenna Trophy as the top graduate of the Empire Test Pilots School’s 60th Fixed Wing Course, Todd amassed over 230 combat hours in the F-16 during Operation Allied Force where he earned seven Air Medals. He is a 2011 distinguished graduate from USAF Air War College where he was awarded Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies and won the General Charles Horner Award. Todd has logged more than 8,500 flight hours in over 90 diverse aircraft types.
As Virgin Galactic’s Vice President of Business Development and Government Affairs, Richard is responsible for managing business development focusing on LauncherOne, the company’s dedicated orbital launch vehicle for small satellites. Richard will be also responsible for managing the company’s interactions with the US government.Read More
Prior to joining Virgin, Richard served as Director, Space and Aeronautics, in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. In this role, he served as the principal advisor on space and aeronautics matters to Dr. John Holdren, the Science Advisor to the President. In this position, Richard played a key role in the development and implementation of the Administration’s domestic and international space policy and program priorities.
Prior to joining OSTP, Richard served as the Vice President of Government Affairs for Intelsat General. He served previously as president of the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association, and for more than three years as the president of the Satellite Industry Association. Earlier, Richard was General Counsel for Spotcast Communications Inc., and Vice President of Government Affairs, North America, for ICO Global Communications, a provider of mobile satellite communications services. He also served for four years as the Assistant Director for Space and Aeronautics in the Clinton White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Richard earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Illinois, a master’s degree in law from McGill University, and a doctorate in jurisprudence from the University of San Francisco.
Julia Tizard joined Virgin Galactic in 2006. She is responsible for the day-to-day running of the commercial human spaceflight program, covering technical operations of the spaceflight system, flight operations and support services.Read More
Julia holds a master’s degree and PhD in astrophysics from the University of Manchester, UK. She has published many papers covering various areas of space science and is a member of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, National Space Society and International Association of Astronomical Artists. Julia co-founded a US non-profit, District Commons, an organization and network of resources dedicated to building community and collaboration to catalyze advancing society.
Julia is a keen mountain climber and marathon runner. She is a founder and board member of the Mojave Marathon LLC, and annual running event in the Mojave Desert. She has climbed the highest peaks in the Alps and Africa and in 2010 completed a marathon at the geographic North Pole. Julia was part of five summit climbs of twelve first ascents made by a recent climbing expedition to establish new routes on unclimbed summits in the Tien Shan mountain range in Kyrgyzstan.
Enrico is responsible for leading the growing day-to-day operations of The Spaceship Company (TSC). Enrico joined Virgin Galactic in 2006 and as TSC’s first employee led TSC’s establishment from a business plan concept to a thriving spaceship manufacturing operation with over 350 employees spread over a large campus in Mojave, California – the first dedicated engineering, manufacturing and flight test enterprise in Virgin Group.Read More
Enrico has a Bachelor of Engineering in mechanical engineering and Bachelor of Science in physics and applied mathematics from the University of Western Australia. Upon receipt of a scholarship from the European Space Agency, Enrico studied at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France completing the university’s intensive Space Studies Program. Enrico brings a wealth of operations leadership, engineering, technology transfer, intellectual property, financial analysis and business planning experience from a variety of industries internationally. A very motivated individual, Enrico moved his family from Perth, Australia to London, England, and then to Mojave, in pursuit of his lifelong ambition and dream of making human spaceflight more accessible to all.
Jon joined Virgin Galactic in October 2015, and is responsible for finance matters for both Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company. Prior to joining Virgin Galactic, Jon was the Controller at ICON Aircraft, a light sport aircraft manufacturer. During his tenure at ICON, Jon helped transition the organization from a research and development centric organization to a full production environment.Read More
Prior to joining ICON, Jon held various financial leadership positions at Ericsson, the Swedish telecommunications provider, both in the US and in Europe. Prior to joining Ericsson, Jon was the Group Controller at Tandberg Television, where he was a key member of the M&A team, which led to the successful acquisition by Ericsson. Previous to Tandberg Television, Jon was the Controller at GoldPocket Interactive, a media software provider that was acquired by Tandberg Television. Jon started his career in the audit advisory services practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Orange County, California.
Jon holds a CPA License (Inactive) in the State of California and obtained a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Christine Choi is responsible for managing Virgin Galactic’s communications with the global community. Her role involves supporting Sir Richard Branson, helping to incubate Virgin start-ups, and providing strategic brand and communications counsel to existing Virgin companies in the Americas. She is also Senior Vice President of Corporate Communications at Virgin Management USA, as well as a Trustee at Virgin Unite, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group.Read More
Before joining the Virgin Group, Christine served as the founding director of communications and founding director of knowledge management at the KIPP Foundation (Knowledge is Power Program), the renowned national network of public charter schools; she was also a founding board member of two of its most successful schools and continues to serve on the board of KIPP New Jersey, which includes high-performing charter schools in Newark and new schools in Camden. Christine started her career as a founding member of Teach For America; she continues to be committed to public education reform.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Williams College and a master’s degree in business from the University of Houston’s Executive MBA Program.
Adam is leading the design of SpaceShipTwo’s cabin interiors and seating systems – unique product solutions that are being custom developed to enable the Virgin Galactic spaceflight experience by working in varying ‘g’ orientations and microgravity. He is also key to the development of facilities at Spaceport America, as well as Virgin Galactic’s apparel systems and other products that future astronauts can look forward to. He works closely with Virgin Galactic’s Commercial team on design & brand projects including the fostering of quality partner collaborations.Read More
Adam started working for Virgin Galactic in early 2008 from within Virgin USA in New York, before becoming a full time employee in 2011. At Virgin USA he was also responsible for the product-experience and brand development of new startup companies being incubated there, including Virgin Hotels and Virgin Cruises.
Prior to that Adam designed Virgin America’s product-experience, having moved to the US to become the airline’s 4th employee. He designed cabin interiors & mood lighting systems, airport environments, uniforms and other accessory products that helped launch the airline in 2007 and contributed to the airline winning multiple years of passenger experience awards.
Adam’s first role within the Virgin Group was with Virgin Atlantic, where he invented and co-designed the Upper Class Suite – a highly inventive & multi-award-winning business class seating system first launched in 2003.
His career was launched with a 1 year internship at Dyson Research, which he held before graduating his degree in Industrial Design.
Clare is responsible for managing the global community of Future Astronauts signed up to fly on SpaceShipTwo. Virgin Galactic started taking refundable deposits in 2005, from individuals around the world who had long dreamt of travelling to space and were keen to reserve their place in line. Since then the group has grown to several hundred strong, and these early pioneers not only helped prove the market for commercial space travel, but have also been central to the Virgin Galactic story.Read More
Clare started her career in Management Consultancy at Deloitte in London, where she focused on customer strategies from insight to execution. Her projects spanned different business challenges and industry sectors for a variety of clients, but with a singular goal of understanding their customers and then improving their customer experience and journeys. Clare was seconded from Deloitte to the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, where she managed the Torch project for the two Torch Relays. This included coordinating the production of 12,000 Torches, along with the sales and distribution of the Torches and the associated Torchbearer journey.
Clare joined Virgin Galactic in 2013 to develop the Future Astronaut community, and her team runs a comprehensive programme to engage Future Astronauts with the project and their fellow flyers. Alongside regular updates and insider access, there are frequent opportunities to connect with each other at events around the world. The Astronaut Relations team’s understanding of the community drives a series of unique adventures and experiences that bring together the vibrant and active community, and unites them in their passion for space and other shared interests. Clare also works with the wider planning for the transition of Future Astronauts to their training and spaceflight in New Mexico, to deliver a unique customer journey and a very Virgin customer experience.
Based in London, Clare holds a First Class MA in Geography from the University of Edinburgh.