With preparations underway for the first Future Astronauts to arrive at Spaceport America, Virgin Galactic has brought in Joe Rohde as a strategic advisor to help design and guide the overall experience journey for future astronauts, friends and family, and inspired fans alike.
Joe will become Virgin Galactic’s first Experience Architect, bringing more than 40 years’ experience from Walt Disney Imagineering where he led projects that transformed the image of Disney’s iconic experiences and attractions. Rohde is truly a transcendent creator whose design work leverages careful detailed composition to create authentic and remarkable experiences. The work he is starting will stimulate curiosity, guide the imagination, and anchor the Virgin Galactic customer experience with purposefulness and meaning.
Joe recently visited New Mexico for the first time, and he shared with us some of his initial thoughts as he starts out at the beginning of his journey to develop the experience that thousands of aspiring astronauts and enthusiasts will come to enjoy in the future.
As part of his interview, Joe said, “I spent 40 years with Walt Disney Imagineering and that word, ‘Imagineering,’ refers to the fusion of imagination and engineering. This means I’ve come from a tradition where if you are imagining something, you are imagining that thing is going to be made real. That’s also been going on here at Virgin Galactic, and I’m delighted to be joining at this incredible moment in time when it is about to blossom into public awareness.”
Rohde continued, “This is one of the most profound things that can happen to you. To go beyond the reaches of the earth, to space, and look back down at it. It’s a spectacularly unique opportunity with huge potential for transformational change in a person…What Virgin Galactic is doing, in democratizing space travel, has reached a moment where it is about to enter history. It’s happening right here in New Mexico, and it’s very rare to be a person who gets to be in the place, at the time, that history begins.’’
Michael Colglazier, CEO of Virgin Galactic said, “As soon as I joined Virgin Galactic, I knew there was one person we just had to work with to help shape the incredible experience we are developing – and that person was Joe Rohde. Joe has a methodology that is unique, inspired, and truly effective. His track record for keeping authenticity central to the design and creating deeply transformative experiences aligns perfectly with our mission. I couldn’t be more pleased to see Joe choose Virgin Galactic for his first encore!’’
Gray is a lifelong Disney fan! From Disney+ to the parks, he loves it all. His favorite Disney movie is Beauty and the Beast, and his favorite attraction is The Haunted Mansion.