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Chilton named to lead Air Force Space Command

The Pentagon announced yesterday that Lt. Gen. Kevin Chilton will become the new commander of Air Force Space Command, succeeding Gen. Lance Lord, who retired a month ago. Chilton will earn a promotion to general in the process, ensuring that the command remains led by a four-star general: there had been concerns that the Air Force would allow a three-star to lead the command, with a corresponding decline in its prestige and importance. If the name sounds familiar, Chilton is a former NASA astronaut, having flown on three shuttle missions between 1992 and 1996, including commander of STS-76 in 1996.

7 comments to Chilton named to lead Air Force Space Command

  • brent

    Another fighter pilot general. Wow, the USAF really pulled off a coup with this one. Sure he’s a 15 pilot, but he was a NASA astronaut, so its ok!

    Here’s hoping he’s the general the space forces need. Here’s another to hope Space Command survives another air breather.

  • It’s a big improvement when the space shuttle plays this role in national politics. Which is to say, nostalgia.

  • Lt. Gen. Chilton knows space in a very direct way that his predecessor did not. Other than that, I know little about him.

    We’re in the process of replacing nearly every major national security space system we’ve got (we have to). I think the key test will be whether or not the contractors can be brought under control.

    Right now their easiest and most direct path to profit is to game the system, to identify problems as slowly as possible, and to be susceptible to any kind of setback for which they cannot easily be blamed. Lt. Gen. Chilton would be their new opponent, and this is the scenario I would like the Senate to keep in mind for their confirmation decision, which is not and should not be a rubber stamp.

    Aside from the regular duties, I believe the key test would be whether or not Lt. Gen. Chilton can make those sorts of contractor games not in the interests of their shareholders. It is war by other means, with real long term consequences, but he is an accomplished general.

    I wish him the best of luck, and for all our sakes I sincerely hope the Senate choose right this time!

  • Kevin, I largely agree, but in a lot of ways, the Pentagon brought all this on themselves through their advocacy of “consolidation.” If the aerospace industry has become more efficient in any way, they’ve sure fooled me. At the same time, we’ve created gigantic organizations beholden to no one for much of anything, and able to thumb their noses at the largest government in the world.

    The worst case in point was allowing Boeing and McDonnell Douglas to combine. By removing all internal competition for large airframes, we’ve handed half the commercial airliner industry to the Europeans on a silver platter, and may soon hand them the tanker market.

    What does all that have to do with spaceflight? Easy, we’re ready to make the same mistake with the EELVs.

    – Donald

  • This is all true, but we cannot change the past, and the important thing is what we do going forward from here.

  • We can however change the future. Give lots of contracts to smaller and new organizations (e.g., via COTS) to encourage the re-establishment of a competative aerospace industry. Prevent the consolidation of the EELVs.

    – Donald