MOJAVE, Calif. (VG PR) — George Whitesides, Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Galactic, today announced the appointment of Steven J. Isakowitz as President of Virgin Galactic LLC. Isakowitz has served as Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer since he joined the company in 2011. He will continue to report directly to Whitesides, CEO of Virgin Galactic and The Spaceship Company.
“Steve has been an invaluable leader for our team since he joined the company,” Whitesides said. “This new position will enable him to take a wider role in company responsibilities as we progress through the final phases of the development program, expand in preparation for commercial operations, and build our small satellite launch service.”
Virgin Galactic is on track to become the world’s first commercial spaceline. The company’s vehicles have been extensively tested and SpaceshipTwo recently completed its first rocket-powered flight that broke the speed of sound. Since joining the company in September 2011, Isakowitz has played a key role across a range of areas, and led the development of LauncherOne, a revolutionary orbital launch system for small satellites.
Isakowitz said, “Virgin Galactic is a transformational company and I am honored to take on this new role. As we chart an exciting course into the future of commercial space travel, I could not imagine a better team with which to do it.”
Prior to joining Galactic, Isakowitz served in several senior positions in the federal government, including NASA, where he served as Deputy Associate Administrator for the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate and received the agency’s Outstanding Leadership Medal. Isakowitz also served as Chief Financial Officer of the U.S. Department of Energy through two presidential administrations. Previously, he served as Branch Chief of Science and Space Programs at the White House Office of Management and Budget, and as an aerospace engineer and project manager for space launch vehicles at Lockheed Martin.
Isakowitz holds Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Aerospace Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the author of the well-known International Reference Guide to Space Launch Systems.
About Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic, owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and aabar Investments PJS, is on track to be the world’s first commercial spaceline. To date, the company has accepted nearly $80 million in deposits from approximately 610 individuals, which is approximately 10% more than the total number of people who have ever gone to space. The new spaceship (SpaceShipTwo, VSS Enterprise) and carrier craft (WhiteKnightTwo, VMS Eve) have both been developed for Virgin Galactic’s vehicle fleet by Mojave-based Scaled Composites. Founded by Burt Rutan, Scaled developed SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 claimed the $10 million Ansari X Prize as the world’s first privately developed manned spacecraft. Virgin Galactic’s new vehicles, which will be manufactured by Virgin Galactic in Mojave, Calif., share much of the same basic design, but are being built to carry six customers, or the equivalent scientific research payload, on suborbital space flights. The vehicles will allow an out-of-the-seat, zero-gravity experience with astounding views of the planet from the black sky of space for tourist astronauts and a unique microgravity platform for researchers. The VSS Enterprise and VMS Eve test flight program is well under way, leading to Virgin Galactic commercial operations, which will be based at Spaceport America in New Mexico.