Press Release: Honorable Matthew P. Donovan Named New Explorer Chair for Space Warfighting Studies

Arlington, VA, May 25, 2021 | The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies announced today the establishment of the new Explorer Chair for Space Warfighting Studies. The Honorable Matthew P. Donovan, Director of the Mitchell Institute’s Spacepower Advantage Research Center, will serve as the inaugural chair. 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 DoD recently selected GA to build a nuclear propulsion engine for its DRACO craft to operate in cis-lunar space.

Carrying the namesake of Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite launched in January 1958 and the first satellite to carry science instruments, the new chair will focus on policy research to advance the United States Space Force’s ability to provide effective national security and warfighting options in an era of increasing threats to America and its allies in space, rapidly evolving technologies in the global space industry, and emerging military spacepower requirements.

Hon. Donovan, a decades-long advocate of spacepower, most recently served as the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. Previously, he was the Under Secretary of the Air Force from 2017 until 2020 and acting Secretary of the Air Force for over five months in 2019. Hon. Donovan was also Majority Policy Director and Professional Staff Member for the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services. Prior to his time on Capitol Hill, he was a Department of the Air Force civilian engaged in strategic planning and programming on the Air Staff after serving over 30 years on active duty in the U.S. Air Force.

In conjunction with the announcement, retired Air Force Lieutenant General David Deptula, Dean of the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies, said, “We are very excited to launch this new chair for the Mitchell Institute. Combined with his role as the director of the Spacepower Advantage Research Center, former Secretary Donovan as the Explorer Chair for Space Warfighting Studies will enable the thought leadership and rigorous analysis to ensure the United States preserves its military advantage in the new warfighting domain encompassing space.”

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