Press Release: General Kevin Chilton Named New Explorer Chair for Space Warfighting Studies

Arlington, VA | August 18, 2021 | The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is pleased to announce that on Sept 1, 2021, General Kevin Chilton, USAF (Ret) will hold the Explorer Chair for Space Warfighting Studies at the Mitchell Institute Spacepower Advantage Research Center (MI-SPARC). General Chilton is a three-time astronaut, having commanded STS-76; is the first and only astronaut to Command Air Force Space Command; and concluded his military career as Commander of Strategic Command where he was responsible for all U.S. forces conducting strategic deterrence and all Department of Defense space and cyberspace operations.

The Explorer Chair for Space Warfighting Studies was previously held by the Honorable Matt Donovan, who was instrumental in the creation of MI-SPARC. Mitchell Institute Dean Lt Gen David Deptula, USAF (Ret,) remarked, “Matt Donovan was a tremendous leader on our team, and I cannot thank him enough for his insight, energy, and vision. He laid the foundation for MI-SPARC as few others could have accomplished.” Deptula continued, “Having General Chilton join at this juncture is another example of the right leader at the right time to ensure the work of MI-SPARC continues to inform policy, strategy, organizational, and budget decisions that will prove pivotal to U.S. national security interests in space. Whether considering his time as an astronaut or one of the Department of Defense’s top space leaders, his expertise in this realm is second to none.”

In concluding his work with MI-SPARC, Matt Donovan remarked, “It’s no secret that our nation’s security interests are fundamentally tied to space. It’s been incredibly gratifying to be part of the Mitchell Institute team and establish a center whose sole purpose is to ensure America’s defense interests in the space domain are best served. I know General Chilton will do a great job working with MI-SPARC to continue this crucial mission.”

Reflecting on his vision for MI-SPARC and his role in the Explorer Chair, General Chilton explained, “The challenges facing us in space today and tomorrow are incredibly serious. I look forward to joining the MI-SPARC team and continuing the great work initiated by Matt Donovan to provide sound analysis, insights, and advice to support the American public and key decision-makers understanding of the criticality of space for America’s national security. It’s an honor to guide this team.”

The Explorer Chair is made possible by the generous support of Mr. Neal Blue, Chairman and CEO of General Atomics (GA), in San Diego, California. GA is a privately held defense and advanced technologies company with an expansive space portfolio. GA’s satellites are operating and performing critical missions. The company will demonstrate optical communication in LEO this year, and the Department of Defense recently selected GA to build a nuclear propulsion engine for its DRACO craft to operate in cis-lunar space.

The Explorer Chair carries the namesake of Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite launched in January 1958. Explorer 1’s success marked the beginning of the U.S. space age. The Explorer Chair focus is on policy research to inform effective national security and warfighting options against threats to America and its allies in space; to pro mote rapidly evolving technologies in the global space industry; and to discern emerging military spacepower requirements.

Gen (Ret.) Kevin Chilton Bio
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