Michael Colglazier will become CEO of the Mojave, California-based space travel company and join the Virgin Galactic board of directors as of July 20, it announced Wednesday.
Colglazier spent more than three decades at Disney. He has taken a variety of roles in the company, including leading its Animal Kingdom Park in Florida and the $2 billion expansion that added Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. He was most recently Disney’s president and managing director of Disney Parks International, in which he oversaw operations and development of the company’s parks and resorts outside the U.S., according to his Disney company biography.
In a statement, Colglazier said he was “thrilled” about taking the role at Virgin Galactic.
“Like so many others, including hundreds of signed-up customers, I have been inspired by this purpose-driven, world-class brand and the incredible opportunity it offers to open space to change the world for good,” he said.
Meanwhile, current Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides will be moving into a chief space officer role, the company announced. He’ll be responsible for developing future business opportunities related to point-to-point hypersonic travel and orbital space travel.
Whitesides is a former NASA chief of staff who joined Virgin Galactic as its first CEO in 2010. He led the company to grow from about 30 employees to more than 900 over a decade. In a statement, Virgin Galactic founder Richard Branson thanked Whitesides for “his outstanding leadership.”
“He has shown dedication and determination as its first CEO to build the company from early stage development through to space flight,” he said.
Virgin Galactic recently signed an agreement with NASA to develop a program to bring private astronauts to the International Space Station and completed the first glide flight of its new craft this past spring.