George Whitesides

George Whitesides
  • CEO
  • Company: Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company

George is responsible for guiding all aspects of building the world’s first commercial spaceline including our spaceflight program as well as our small satellite launch capability. This includes oversight of our sister company, The Spaceship Company (TSC), to manufacture a fleet of WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo space vehicles.

Prior to Virgin Galactic, George served as Chief of Staff for NASA, where he provided policy and staff support to the agency’s Administrator. Upon departure from NASA, he received the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award the agency confers.

Prior to his role at NASA, George served as Executive Director of the National Space Society (NSS), a space policy and advocacy group that was founded by Apollo program leader Wernher von Braun and the journalist Hugh Downs.

Currently, 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, Princeton’s Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department Advisory Council, and the advisory board of the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement. He is a fellow of the UK Royal Aeronautical Society and an associate fellow of AIAA. He previously chaired the Reusable Launch Vehicle Working Group for the FAA’s Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee, and has served on the Board of Trustees of Princeton University, the board of Virgin Unite USA, and the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Space Security.

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. Space News selected him as one of 12 “People to Watch” in the space industry.

An honors graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, George earned his undergraduate degree in public and international affairs. He later earned a master’s degree in geographic information systems and remote sensing from the University of Cambridge in England, and was a Fulbright Scholar to Tunisia. George is a licensed private pilot and certified parabolic flight coach.