Our Team

GW-Web

GEORGE WHITESIDES

CEO of The Spaceship Company & Virgin Galactic

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 TSC and 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 on the board of Virgin Unite USA, the non-profit foundation of the Virgin Group. He is also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Space Security; an advisory board member of the Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation; a fellow of the UK’s 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. He served for four years on the Board of Trustees of Princeton University.

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.

Doug-Web

DOUG SHANE

President of The Spaceship Company

Doug oversees the manufacturing operations of Virgin Galactic’s fleet of SpaceShipTwo spaceships and WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft through our sister company, The Spaceship Company (TSC).

Prior to his position with TSC, Doug had a 31-year career at Scaled Composites where he conducted the first flights of eight different aircraft and led Scaled’s acquisition of an FAA Commercial Launch License for SpaceShipOne, the first-ever crewed commercial licensed launch. In addition to serving as Director of Flight Operations, Doug served for many years as Vice President of Business Development, increasing Scaled’s revenue more than tenfold. Doug became President of Scaled following the retirement of company founder and aerospace legend Burt Rutan.

Doug holds a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering from The University of Kansas and numerous awards, including the Iven C. Kincheloe and James H. Doolittle awards from the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, as well as the Robert J. Collier Trophy. Doug has also served as President of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP).

Enrico-Palermo_mini

ENRICO PALERMO

Vice President of Operations for The Spaceship Company

Enrico is responsible for leading the growing day-to-day operations of The Spaceship Company (TSC). Enrico joined Virgin Galactic in 2006 and as TSC’s first employee led TSC’s establishment from a business plan concept to a thriving spaceship manufacturing operation with over 300 employees spread over a large campus in Mojave, California – the first dedicated engineering, manufacturing and flight test enterprise in Virgin Group.

Enrico has a Bachelor of Engineering in mechanical engineering and Bachelor of Science in physics and applied mathematics from the University of Western Australia. Upon receipt of a scholarship from the European Space Agency, Enrico studied at the International Space University in Strasbourg, France completing the university’s intensive Space Studies Program. Enrico brings a wealth of operations leadership, engineering, technology transfer, intellectual property, financial analysis and business planning experience from a variety of industries internationally. A very motivated individual, Enrico moved his family from Perth, Australia to London, England, and then to Mojave, in pursuit of his lifelong ambition and dream of making human spaceflight more accessible to all.