George Whitesides is the CEO of Virgin Galactic, the US based and regulated Space Tourism Company. Virgin Galactic has developed the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo air launched space system over the past six years using technology developed by Scaled Composites based on the X Prize winning SpaceShipOne which was piloted twice into space and now hangs in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. In his role as CEO, Whitesides is responsible for all aspects of the business, guiding VG to commercial operations at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
Most recently, Whitesides served as Chief of Staff for NASA, where he was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal, the highest honor that the agency confers. Prior to his role at NASA, Whitesides served as Executive Director of the National Space Society and Chairman of the Reusable Launch Vehicle Working Group of the Federal Aviation Authority Commercial Space Transportation Advisory Committee. Whitesides’ earlier career experience in the aerospace industry took place at Orbital Sciences Corporation, Blastoff Corporation and the Zero Gravity Corporation. A licensed private pilot and certified parabolic flight coach, Whitesides is a graduate of Cambridge and Princeton Universities and a former Fulbright Scholar.