Virgin Galactic Hires Steve Isakowitz as EVP and CTO

Virgin Galactic Hires Steve Isakowitz as EVP and CTO

Steve Isakowitz, well known in Washington space policy circles even though he has been Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of the Department of Energy (DOE) for the past several years, is joining Virgin Galactic as Executive Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

Isakowitz was Comptroller of NASA while Sean O’Keefe was NASA Administrator. O’Keefe was Deputy Director of OMB when he was tapped to replace Dan Goldin as Admininistrator early in the George W. Bush Presidency. Isakowitz, who was Branch Chief for Science and Space at OMB, was one of several OMB staffers who went to NASA with O’Keefe or shortly thereafter.

The O’Keefe/Isakowitz era at NASA probably will be most remembered for the heartbreak of the 2003 space shuttle Columbia tragedy, and the resulting reexamination of the rationale for human spaceflight that led to Vision for Space Exploration speech by President Bush in January 2004. Isakowtiz is credited (or blamed, depending on one’s point of view) for developing the budgetary strategy that showed that NASA could afford to send people back to the Moon by 2020 and on to Mars with the extremely small increase ($1 billion over 5 years) promised by President Bush. The strategy included ending the space shuttle and U.S. participation in the International Space Station much earlier than planned so those budget resources could be diverted to meeting the Moon goal. Isakowitz transitioned to become NASA’s Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration in 2005 under Craig Steidle before leaving the agency later that year to join the CIA’s Science and Technology Directorate. He moved to DOE in 2007 and served under the Bush and Obama Administrations as DOE’s CFO.

Virgin Galatic announced Isakowitz’s appointment today. He has B.A. and M.A. degrees in aerospace engineering from MIT and once worked for Lockheed Martin and Booz Allen Hamilton. His son, Matt, is Associate Director of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation (CSF), of which Virgin Galactic is a member. Steidle recently became CSF’s President. It’s a small world.

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