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General Kevin Patrick "Chilli" Chilton, USAF, (b November 3, 1954), is an engineer, the current Commander, U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), of which he assumed the duties on October 3, 2007. Prior to his selection to the rank of General, General Chilton spent 11 years of his military career as a NASAmarker astronaut.

Early life

Born in Los Angelesmarker, Californiamarker, he graduated from St. Bernard High Schoolmarker, Playa del Reymarker, California, in 1972. He received a BSc in engineering sciences from the USAF Academy in 1976, and an MSc in mechanical engineering from Columbia University on a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1977.

Early Air Force career

Chilton received his commission from the USAF Academy in 1976. After receiving his wings at Williams Air Force Basemarker, Arizonamarker in 1978 he qualified in the RF-4C Phantom II and was assigned to the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Kadena Air Basemarker, Japanmarker. From 1978 until 1980, he served as a combat-ready pilot and instructor pilot in the RF-4C in Koreamarker, Japanmarker, and the Philippinesmarker.

In 1981, he converted to the F-15 Eagle and was assigned to the 67th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Kadena Air Base as a squadron pilot. In 1982, Chilton attended the USAF Squadron Officer School at Maxwell Air Force Basemarker, Alabamamarker, and finished as the number one graduate for the year, receiving the Secretary of the Air Force Leadership Award.

Subsequently assigned to the 9th and 7th Tactical Fighter Squadrons at Holloman AFBmarker, New Mexicomarker, Chilton served as an F-15 squadron weapons officer, instructor pilot, and flight commander until 1984 when selected for the USAF Test Pilot School. He graduated number one in his class to win the Liethen-Tittle Award as the outstanding test pilot at the school.

Chilton was assigned to Eglin Air Force Basemarker, Floridamarker, where he conducted weapons and systems tests in all models of the F-15 and F-4. While a member of the 3247th Test Squadron, Chilton served as squadron safety officer, as chief of test and evaluation, and as squadron operations officer.

NASA career

In August 1987 Chilton was assigned to NASAmarker and became an astronaut in August 1988, qualifying for assignment as a pilot on Space Shuttle flight crews.

Chilton held a variety of technical assignments. He served in the Mission Development Branch of the Astronaut Office in support of the Infrared Background Signature Survey (IBSS) satellite, and the Orbital Maneuvering Vehicle (OMV) programs. He was the Astronaut Office T-38 safety officer, leader of the Astronaut Support Personnel team at the Kennedy Space Centermarker and was lead spacecraft communicator (CAPCOM) for numerous shuttle flights.

Chilton also served as Deputy Program Manager for the early International Space Station program. A veteran of three space flights, Chilton logged more than 704 hours in space. He was the pilot on STS-49 for the maiden voyage of Space Shuttle Endeavour (May 7-May 16 1992), and STS-59 on the Space Radar Laboratory (SRL) mission (April 9-April 20 1994). He commanded STS-76 on the third docking mission to the Russianmarker space station Mir in 1996.

Among Chilton's numerous awards are the Air Force Distinguished Service Medal (2), Defense Superior Service Medal (3), Legion of Merit (2), Distinguished Flying Cross, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (2), and the Air Force Commendation Medal. He is also a recipient of NASA’s "Top Fox" Flight Safety Award.

An accomplished guitarist, Chilton spent a portion of his spare time hammering out riffs on a Fender Stratocaster while jamming with the all astronanut band, "Max Q".

Air Force Career resumed

Gen Chilton left NASA in 1998 to become Deputy Director, Political Military Affairs for Asia, Pacificmarker, and Middle East. His first military command was of the 9th Reconnaissance Wing (9 RW) at Beale AFBmarker, California from May, 1999 to September, 2000. In August 2004, Chilton assumed the dual duties of Commander, Eighth Air Force (8 AF) and Commander, JFCC SGS at Barksdale AFBmarker, Louisiana. In April 2006, Chilton was nominated to become the Commander of Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) at Peterson AFBmarker, Colorado. On June 26, 2006, he received his fourth star and assumed command of Air Force Space Command.[63897] Gen Chilton then took command of United States Strategic Command in Oct 2007 and is currently serving in that position.

Gen Chilton is the first former astronaut to achieve four-star grade. Lt Gen Tom Stafford and VADM Dick Truly had attained the rank of three-stars (Lieutenant General in the U.S. Air Force and Vice Admiral in the U.S. Navy, respectively), while most Apollo-era astronauts, starting with Brig Gen James McDivitt and RADM Alan Shepard, retired with either one or two-stars in active, reserve, or Guard roles.

Awards and Decorations

  • NASA "Top Fox" Flight Safety Award (not worn)

See also

External links

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