George Whitesides is CEO of Virgin Galactic, a spaceflight company within Virgin Group — aiming to develop commercial spacecraft and provide suborbital space flights for space tourists and space science missions.
More than 600 people have signed up to fly in zero gravity for five minutes with Virgin Galactic, with many paying $250,000 as far back as 2005 for the opportunity.
The company hopes to soon be able to finally offer the sub-orbital space flights. This has been bolstered by the recent transfer of the latest iteration of the Virgin Galactic spaceship to its space HQ in New Mexico.
Before becoming CEO in 2010, Whitesides was Chief of Staff at NASA, leaving with the Distinguished Service Medal. He graduated with a degree in Public and International Affairs from Princeton, and a Masters in Remote Sensing from Cambridge University.
Nonetheless, Whitesides stresses space is not the be all and end all. “Training the next crew of Spaceship Earth is the most important job we’ve got,” he writes on Twitter.
According to founder Richard Branson, Virgin is helping to create, for the first time, a basic space access infrastructure that will act as an enabler for scientists and entrepreneurs. The company will also provide the catalyst for a new age of space exploration, which promises enormous positive potential for life on Earth.
“We are at the vanguard of a new industry determined to pioneer twenty-first century spacecraft, which will open space to everybody — and change the world for good,” Branson said, as quoted on Virgin Galactic’s official website.
“I think the market for people who would love to become astronauts and go to space is gigantic,” he added in an interview with CNBC. “And it is up to us to produce as many spaceships as we can to cater with that demand.”Tags: Space, USA, Virgin