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Former Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides Runs for Congress

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
February 23, 2023
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Former Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides Runs for Congress

Former Virgin Galactic (NYS: SPCE) CEO George Whitesides is seeking to represent California’s 27th district in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Whitesides, a Democrat, threw his hat into the ring for next year’s election. Republican Mike Garcia has held the seat since 2020.

The 27th district encompasses the northern part of Los Angeles County. It covers the southern end of Antelope Valley, which includes the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale. The area is nicknamed the Aerospace Valley because of the presence of Edwards Air Force Base, Mojave Air and Space Port at Rutan Field, Lockheed Martin’s Skunk Works facility, and various aerospace companies.

Whitesides served as CEO of Virgin Galactic from May 2010 until July 2020 when he was replaced by former Disney executive Michael Colglazier. He then served as Virgin Galactic’s chief space officer until leaving that position in early 2021. Whitesides served as chairman of the company’s Space Advisory Board from July 2020 until this month when he left to become a candidate for Congress.

Prior to joining Virgin Galactic, Whitesides served on Barack Obama’s transition team in 2008-09 and as NASA chief of staff in 2009-10. He was awarded the space agency’s highest honor, the Distinguished Service Medal. Whitesides was executive director of the National Space Society from 2004 to 2008.

In September 2022, he founded Megafire Action, an organization focused on addressing the increasing number of wildfires that have damaged California and other states.

Whitesides has stressed his decade-long tenure at Virgin Galactic, whose production facility is located at the Mojave spaceport.

“George was the first CEO of Virgin Galactic, the human spaceflight company founded by Richard Branson. He grew the company over a decade from a small team to the global aerospace firm it is today, creating 700 jobs in the Antelope Valley and flying the first woman to space on a commercial space vehicle,” his campaign website said.

Whitesides led Virgin Galactic when it merged with Chamath Palihapitiya’s Social Capital Hedosophia (SCH) and went public on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in October 2019. SCH was a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), a “blank check” company that was already traded on NYSE. Virgin Galactic went public under its own name after the merger.