Virgin Galactic Holdings (NYSE:SPCE), the company that dreams of making space tourism an everyday entertainment for well-heeled vacationers, is bringing in an entertainment expert to help make that dream a reality.
Late on Wednesday, the company announced that the CEO who led Virgin Galactic from start-up to IPO, George Whitesides, will step down from his post on Monday and become the company's chief space officer. Taking over the CEO's desk on July 20 will be Michael Colglazier, who until recently was Walt Disney's (NYSE:DIS) president of Disney Parks International, and before that, of Disneyland itself.
Colglazier brings some three decades of experience attracting domestic and international visitors to Disney's entertainment parks, and has been responsible for everything from park operations and strategy to "commercial and experiential development," Virgin Galactic says.
In a statement, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson said, "Michael's long and distinguished career at one of the world's leading customer experience brands provides a natural fit with Virgin's culture as well as Galactic's requirements as it prepares for commercial service." This seems especially pertinent considering that Virgin Galactic intends to offer space tourists not simply a ride to space, but a perhaps weekslong space camp experience in New Mexico, including all the astronaut training required to take a ride into space.
Whitesides will assume more of a big-think role focused on "developing the Company's future business opportunities, including point-to-point hypersonic travel and orbital space travel," the company said. Whitesides was formerly chief of staff for NASA.