Former Disney Imaginator Joe Rohde Joins Virgin Galactic to Design Customer Space Travel Experience – Deadline

Joe Rohde, who retired from Walt Disney Co. in January after four decades as an Imagineer, joined Virgin Galactic as the company’s first “experienced architect”.

Founded by Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Galactic is one of the few companies that aims to commercialize space travel. Its sister company, Virgin Orbit, has drawn attention for pledging to send the first small-satellite trade mission to Mars, a planet back in the news due to the successful Rover landing by NASA. Plans are underway for the first “future astronauts” to begin arriving at Spaceport America in New Mexico, Virgin Galactic noted when announcing Rohde’s appointment. Earlier this month, the company had to cancel a test flight due to what it called “technical checks”, saying it would soon be postponed.

Walt Disney fantasy veteran Joe Rohde whose work spanned Epcot to Pandora retires

Rohde has overseen major Disney park projects like Pandora – The World of Avatar; the guardians of the galaxy update to Disney California Adventure; and the Eco-Resort Villages Nature next to Disneyland Paris. At Virgin Galactic, he will be strategic advisor ”to help design and guide the overall experience for future astronauts, friends and families, as well as inspired fans, ”the company said, adding that its goal will be to“stimulate curiosity, guide the imagination and anchor the Virgin Galactic customer experience with purpose and meaning. “

In a video recorded at Spaceport America, Rohde said his Disney Imagineering experience means “I come from a tradition where if you imagine something, you imagine that thing will become real. It’s also happening here at Virgin Galactic, and I’m delighted to join in on this incredible moment when it’s about to become public awareness.

Space travel, he added, “is one of the most profound things that can happen to you. Go beyond the limits of the earth, into space, and look back. This is a spectacularly unique opportunity with enormous potential for transformational change in one person… What Virgin Galactic is doing, by democratizing space travel, has reached a point where it is poised to make history. It’s happening here in New Mexico, and it’s very rare to be a person who gets to the place, at the time, where the story begins. ”

Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic, said he has long wanted Rohde to spearhead the company’s experience. “Joe has a unique, inspired and really effective methodology,” said Colglazier. “His track record of keeping authenticity central to design and creating deeply transformative experiences aligns perfectly with our mission.”

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