Virgin Galactic, the private space tourism company, said today that it has added a former White House official to run government relations.

Richard DalBello

Above: Richard DalBello

Image Credit: Virgin Galactic

In an announcement this afternoon, Virgin Galactic said it has hired Richard DalBello, the former assistant director for space and aeronautics in the White House’s Office of Science and Technology policy.

DalBello will manage Virgin Galactic’s relationship with the U.S. government, as well as oversee business development for LauncherOne, the company’s orbital launch vehicle for small satellites.

For a company like Virgin Galactic, which is hoping to soon begin ferrying passengers into space at a quarter-million dollars a ride, having someone on staff with direct White House experience, and who can help navigate myriad policy and regulatory issues, is a huge advantage. Virgin Galactic’s plan to begin passenger flights, of course, is on hold in the wake of a tragic accident in October in which its SpaceShip Two spacecraft crashed in California’s Mojave desert, killing one pilot and severely injuring another.

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