Members of the Virgin Galactic outside one of its facilities. Photo courtesy of: Virgin Galactic
Virgin Galactic’s announcement last month that it was bringing its LauncherOne manufacturing site to Long Beach meant two things: The city’s long vacant real estate around Long Beach Airport would have another tenant, and it would need people to build those rockets that Galactic uses to send satellites to space. To fill that need, the company is hosting a job fair and open house Saturday, March 7 at Galactic’s facility in Douglas Park to start the process of composing its team.
Galactic is looking to hire roughly 100 full-time employees, with job descriptions ranging from manufacturing propulsion engineer to financial analyst. There are also “open categories” for positions that don’t have a defined job status, but that CEO and President George Whitesides said that if “the right kind of person” surfaces, they’d create a position for them. Whitesides added that the company has already had several hundred people RSVP through the company careers webpage and that Long Beach’s aviation history has Galactic hopeful that many of those will be the right fit for the company.
“Clearly a big part of the reason why we chose this place is that it’s right in the middle of the aerospace zone of Southern California and it’s got a tremendous pool of experienced aerospace people and more broadly, people who might be interested in the aerospace world as a career path,” Whitesides said. “I think for people who are interested in really making a difference and creating something that changes a key part of how we get to space, this is a good opportunity for people to check out.”
In a statement last month, Mayor Robert Garcia applauded the city’s ability to attract a hi-tech company like Galactic, which will not only bring space exploration to Long Beach, but also good paying jobs.
“We’re thrilled that Long Beach attracted a tenant like Virgin Galactic, a world-renowned leader of the commercial space industry,” Garcia said. “This is one of the most exciting and dynamic businesses in the country, and they are bringing excellent jobs we need for the talented and hard-working aerospace professionals who already call Long Beach home.”
Galactic is using the new facility, located near the Mercedez Benz preparation facility that broke ground last year, as a manufacturing site for its new satellite launch vehicle called LauncherOne, which is designed to make the launching of newer, smaller satellites more cost effective. The privately-funded company founded by Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire behind the Virgin Group, moved into its newly-leased 150,000 sq. foot home north of the airport at Douglas Park in late February.
Instead of hitching rides on bigger, older and more expensive rockets, which give satellite companies little control of where the satellites are launched from and eventually entered into orbit, the company will attach the LauncherOne to its WhiteKnightTwo carrier plane—the same plane that carries its space tourism craft SpaceShipTwo— and provide the control and affordability that current methods lack. The company says this will lower costs and increase flexibility of locations from which companies can launch from.
There is no stipulation for the company to hire local but Whitesides reiterated that he’s confident, given the city being a hub for aviation jobs for such a long time, that there will be Long Beach residents who end up getting hired onto the team. While he didn’t go into the salaries they’d be earning, stating that given the breadth of jobs being offered it would be hard to pin down a hard number, he said the company takes care of its employees.
“I think we offer competitive packages and treat our people well both on the salary side and the benefit side,” Whitesides said. “Each job will be competitive in terms of benchmarking against other companies and other sectors.
Whitesides said that because the job fair is expected to be so crowded, it would be best that not all interested parties show up and cause an initial rush. Spacing out people throughout the day will not only make for a better experience for people seeking jobs, but not having a rush will allow Galactic employees to have better, more in depth conversations with possible applicants.
“Obviously we want to make sure we get the right people but if we see the right people we’re going to hire them, Whitsides said. “We’re really trying to make a big push to get LauncherOne into service as quickly as we can and this hiring plan is a big part of that.”
The event is slated to start at 8:30AM at the Virgin Galactic building at Douglas Park with a ribbon cutting ceremony followed by the job fair from 9:00AM-12:00PM. The building is located at 4022 E. Conant St. Long Beach, CA 90806.