27 October 2020

Virgin Galactic Hires Two New Pilots into its Pilot Corps

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Virgin Galactic today announced the appointment of two new pilots into its Pilot Corps, bringing the total number of pilots to eight.

Jameel Janjua and Patrick Moran will be based at Spaceport America, New Mexico, and join the Virgin Galactic team as preparations for commercial service continue.

Both will embark on an extensive training program before flying SpaceShipTwo.  In addition to the Spaceship, the pilots will also train to fly the carrier aircraft, VMS Eve.  VMS Eve provides a way for the pilots to fly simulated parts of the SpaceShipTwo flight trajectory, gaining valuable hands-on training.  Other assignments for the pilots will include flying other company support aircraft, working mission control, flight planning, and support various detailed engineering and project roles across the company.

While Jameel and Patrick will initially operate in a test pilot capacity, they, along with the rest of the Pilot Corps, will ultimately become the world’s first commercial Spaceship Pilots, flying Future Astronauts on their life-changing journey into space and back.

Our Virgin Galactic Pilots serve an essential role in the flight experience of our Future Astronauts.  The pilots will join the Future Astronauts at various points in their training program, helping emphasize and provide details about various key elements of their upcoming spaceflight.   All pilots are ambassadors of the Virgin Galactic brand and will work to provide Future Astronauts with an out of this world adventure.

Both Jameel and Patrick bring a wealth of aircraft flight and flight test experience; they were picked from a small group of specialized pilots who meet the strict criteria needed to be considered for the role of a Virgin Galactic Pilot.

Each of them has flown in both military and commercial roles, involving training, operations and test, as well as flying passengers and managing crew. Jameel has completed over 4,000 flying hours in more than 45 different vehicles throughout his career, which spans over twenty years in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He completed exchange tours for the Royal Air Force and the U.S Air Force and is on the Board of Directors for the Society of Experimental Test Pilots {SETP}. Patrick served as a Pilot in the Marine Corps for twenty years, including roles as a test pilot, test pilot school instructor, and the lead government test pilot for Navy and Marine Corps versions of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.  He then entered business aviation as a broker, consultant, and charter pilot, and joins Virgin Galactic with over 3,000 flight hours in 34 different aircraft.

Dave Mackay, Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot said, “I am delighted to welcome Jameel Janjua and Pat Moran to the Virgin Galactic Pilot Corps. Jameel and Pat both come with a tremendous range and depth of experience of both military and civilian aviation, and test flying in particular. Their backgrounds, in addition to their accomplished interpersonal skills, will make them hugely valuable - particularly as we prepare for, and soon enter, commercial passenger operations. Virgin Galactic is fortunate to have secured the services of two such high caliber pilots, and we eagerly anticipate their contributions to the team as a whole.”

Jameel Janjua said, "Helping to democratize space travel is a unique honor, and I am thrilled and humbled to be joining the Virgin Galactic Pilot Corps. With society on the cusp of opening space to all humankind, I cannot think of a more privileged role than to be a small part of the amazing team guiding people to their dreams and beyond. I am excited to join our Future Astronauts on their personal and insightful journeys and I’m looking forward to witnessing, first-hand, the variety of reactions these life-changing experiences will evoke."

Patrick Moran said, “I am excited to join this fantastic team of talented pioneers leading the charge for commercial space travel and now in the final stages of its flight test program. As a flight instructor, I loved to take people flying in the F/A-18 for the first time, to see their huge smiles as they climbed out of the cockpit.  I can’t wait to share the experience of going to space with our Future Astronauts and to see their reactions as they step out of the spaceship and describe their views of Earth from space!”

GEORGE WHITESIDES

GEORGE WHITESIDES

SPACE ADVISORY BOARD CHAIR

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.

CHRIS HADFIELD

CHRIS HADFIELD

SPACE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

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 MAGNUS

DR SANDRA MAGNUS

SPACE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

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).

DAVID A. WHELAN

DAVID A. WHELAN

SPACE ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

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.