28 April 2020

Supporting Our Local Communities in New Mexico in the Fight Against COVID-19 by Mike Moses


As we continue to feel the impact of COVID-19, I would like to thank our team for the perseverance, compassion and determination they have shown in our home of New Mexico with their ongoing effort to support local communities in response to the challenge of COVID-19.

As part of our relief efforts, we have made several donations of medical supplies to communities and hospitals in California and New Mexico. Donations have included meals, masks, suits, PAPRs, and gloves to local hospitals including Memorial Medical Center, MountainView Regional Medical Center, and Ben Archer Center, as well as offering support to Sierra Vista Hospital in Truth or Consequences, New Mexico, the hospital located within Sierra County, where Spaceport America resides. We have also donated our existing stock of several hundred N95 masks to Memorial Medical and MountainView Regional Centers, as well as out of state in California and Illinois. 

Most recently, we have made contributions of $30,000 to the purchase of essential equipment and PPE for our local medical centers in Las Cruces. So far, we have been able to deliver 6 Airwash air scrubbers to MountainView Regional Medical Center. These air scrubbers will help the hospital filter the air within a given area to remove contaminants. 

Carlos Montoya from MountainView accepting the 6 Air washes at MountainView Regional Medical Center from Virgin Galactic's Matt Sundelius

Several weeks ago, we also shared news of our work with the Antelope Valley COVID-19 Task Force – and just yesterday, signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA, committing us to developing innovative solutions to support local communities and healthcare workers on the frontlines. Alongside NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, Antelope Valley College, The Spaceship Company, and the City of Lancaster, CA, we have worked to deliver our joint mission of developing solutions to protect healthcare workers and save lives in local medical facilities. Together, the team has been working on specialist equipment, including our prototype patient oxygen hoods, which allow oxygen rich pressure to support those admitted with COVID-19. These prototypes are now being tested for comfort, ease of use and functionality and we will also be reviewing options for FDA authorization and wider testing with subsequent availability in Las Cruces.

We are also working with a team at Texas-based Sea-Long Medical Systems, which is manufacturing hyperbaric oxygen hoods, to help them ramp up production and make hoods available to people across the country. Several oxygen hoods from Sea-Long have already been donated to the Memorial and MountainView Regional Medical Centers in Las Cruces. The Antelope Valley COVID-19 Task Force identified a need in the Gallup Indian Health Care Center and Navajo communities in New Mexico, and we hope to send more oxygen hoods to those areas to support the demand for protective hoods.

Last month, the State of New Mexico launched its COVID-19 relief fund called All Together New Mexico, and we were very proud to support our community by donating $10,000. In Las Cruces, we have also contributed to the Together Las Cruces fund with a donation of $25,000. This fund, coordinated by the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico will support Doña Ana county residents who have had a significant loss of income as a result of COVID-19 executive orders. We have also supported the American Red Cross of New Mexico, El Paso, and Arizona Region with a donation of $10,000.

In addition to these community donations to support our State, our local people, and the humanitarian and emergency response efforts of our local American Red Cross, we have also supported our healthcare workers and medical professionals in the fight against the virus by delivering boxed lunches to medical centers in New Mexico. We have already provided 1,100 total lunches to Memorial Medical Center, MountainView Regional Medical Center, and Ben Archer Health Center frontline staff, and we are assembling care packages for staff working extra shifts. 

Outside of all this, I would like to highlight our team. Our flight surgeon Dr. Tarah Castleberry helps coordinate these efforts with our procurement and supply chain departments from both Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company. Together these departments ensure we are able to source critical items to support our communities. I am incredibly proud of what our employees have achieved over the past weeks, and admire every one of them for their generosity and determination to help our local communities in New Mexico and California. 

Virgin Galactic will continue making every effort within its means to help its employees and communities through this global crisis. Our work is not over, and we look forward to continuing to support and empower the communities in which we operate, and the communities we now call home.




George T. Whitesides is the Chair of the Space Advisory Board, where he is responsible for bringing together aerospace leaders to advise the Virgin Galactic senior management team on the journey towards regular commercial spaceflight, developing the next generation vehicles and exploring new opportunities. Previously, George served as the Chief Space Officer of Virgin Galactic, spearheading the development of future technologies, including high speed, point-to-point travel and orbital flight, after stepping down as CEO in 2020.

George joined Virgin Galactic in 2010 as Chief Executive Officer. During George’s 10 years with the Company, he built the company from 30 people to a workforce of over 900, successfully guiding Virgin Galactic through its human space flight R&D and flight test program, culminating in two space flights. These historic flights saw the first humans launched into space from US soil since the retirement of the Space Shuttle, as well as the first woman to fly on a commercial space vehicle. George led the transition of operations from Mojave, California to Spaceport America, New Mexico, and oversaw the company’s successful public listing making it a multi-billion dollar company and creating the world’s first publicly traded human spaceflight venture.

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’s volunteer service includes Caltech’s Space Innovation Council, Princeton University’s Advisory Council for Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and the Antelope Valley Economic Development & Growth Enterprise. He is a fellow of the UK Royal Aeronautical Society and an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

He previously served as Vice Chair of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation, chair of the Reusable Launch Vehicle Working Group for the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, a member of the Board of Directors of Virgin Galactic, a member of the Board of Trustees of Princeton University, co-chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Space Technologies, 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 School of Public and International Affairs, 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 California with his wife Loretta and two children.




Colonel Chris Hadfield is a heavily decorated astronaut, engineer, and test pilot who has commanded the International Space Station. Formerly NASA’s Director of Operations in Russia and veteran of three spaceflights, Hadfield’s many awards include the Order of Canada, the Meritorious Service Cross and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal. Hadfield is a three-time NYT bestselling author, a renowned musician, an adjunct professor at the University of Waterloo, chair of the board of the Open Lunar Foundation, and host of several internationally acclaimed television series. In addition, Hadfield leads the space stream at the Creative Destruction Lab, one of the world’s top tech incubators.




Dr. Sandra H. “Sandy” Magnus is the Principal at AstroPlanetview, LLC. Most recently she served as the Deputy Director of Engineering in the Office of the Secretary of Defense for the Undersecretary of Research and Engineering. In that role she served as the “Chief Engineer” for the Department of Defense establishing engineering policy, propagating best practices and working to connect the engineering community across the department.

Dr. Magnus is the former Executive Director of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). Prior to leading AIAA, she was a member of the NASA Astronaut Corps for 16 years. During her time at NASA she flew in space on the STS-112 shuttle mission in 2002, and on the final shuttle flight, STS-135, in 2011. In addition, she flew to the International Space Station on STS-126 in November 2008, served as flight engineer and science officer on Expedition 18, and returned home on STS-119 after four and a half months on board.

Following her assignment on Station, she served at NASA Headquarters in the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. Her last duty at NASA, after STS-135, was as the deputy chief of the Astronaut Office.

While at NASA, Dr. Magnus worked extensively with the international community, including the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), as well as with Brazil on facility-type payloads. She also spent time in Russia developing and integrating operational products and procedures for the International Space Station.

Before joining NASA, Dr. Magnus worked for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Company as a stealth engineer. While at McDonnell Douglas, she worked on internal R&D and on the Navy’s A-12 Attack Aircraft program.

Dr. Magnus has received numerous awards, including the NASA Space Flight Medal, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, and the 40 at 40 Award (given to former collegiate women athletes to recognize the impact of Title IX).




Dr. David A. Whelan is the SVP Chief-Scientist of Cubic Corporation. Dr. Whelan retired from Boeing in 2017, as the Vice President, Engineering (BDS) and Board of Directors for HRL Laboratories. Whelan served as Director of the Tactical Technology Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and began his career at Northrop as designer of the B-2 Stealth Bomber. Whelan is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a fellow of the American Physical Society and IEEE. He earned his Ph.D. Physics from UCLA; He holds over 75 US patents.