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Kevin Patrick "Chilli" Chilton
Born November 3, 1954(1954-11-03) (age 67)
Place of birth Los Angeles, California
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
United States Air Force

Kevin Patrick "Chilli" Chilton (born November 3, 1954), is a former United States Air Force four-star General. His last assignment was as Commander, U.S. Strategic Command from October 3, 2007 to January 28, 2011. Prior to his appointment to general officer ranks, Chilton spent 11 years of his military career as a NASA astronaut. He retired from the Air Force on February 1, 2011, after having achieved the highest rank of any military astronaut. On January 30, 2012, General Chilton was named to the board of directors of Orbital Sciences Corporation.

Early life[edit | edit source]

Born in Los Angeles, California, he graduated from St. Bernard High School, Playa del Rey, California, in 1972. He received a bachelor of science in engineering sciences from the United States Air Force Academy in 1976, and an master of science in mechanical engineering from Columbia University on a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1977.

Early Air Force career[edit | edit source]

Chilton handing a GPS receiver to Steve Doocy during an interview with Fox & Friends

Chilton received his commission from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1976. After receiving his pilot wings at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona in 1978, he qualified in the RF-4C Phantom II and was assigned to the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Kadena Air Base, Japan. From 1978 until 1980, he served as a combat-ready pilot and instructor pilot in the RF-4C in Korea, Japan and the Philippines.

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 Base, Alabama, 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 AFB, New Mexico, Chilton served as an F-15 squadron weapons officer, instructor pilot, and flight commander until 1984 when selected for the U.S. Air Force 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 Base, Florida, where he conducted weapons and systems tests in all models of the F-15 and F-4 aircraft. 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[edit | edit source]

In August 1987 Chilton was assigned to NASA 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 Talon safety officer, leader of the Astronaut Support Personnel team at the Kennedy Space Center, 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 Russian space station Mir in 1996.

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".

Awards and honors[edit | edit source]

USAF Master Astronaut badge.jpg Master Air Force Astronaut Badge
Master space badge.JPG Master Air Force Space and Missile Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge
Seal of the United States Strategic Command.svg United States Strategic Command Badge
Defense Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Superior Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 crimson ribbon with a pair of width-2 white stripes on the edges
Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross
Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Width-44 crimson ribbon with two width-8 white stripes at distance 4 from the edges.
Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Outstanding Unit Award with oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Organizational Excellence Award with oak leaf cluster
NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal
NASA Exceptional Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
NASA Space Flight Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Combat Readiness Medal
Air Force Recognition Ribbon
Bronze star
Width=44 scarlet ribbon with a central width-4 golden yellow stripe, flanked by pairs of width-1 scarlet, white, Old Glory blue, and white stripes
National Defense Service Medal with service star
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Korea Defense Service Medal
Air Force Overseas Short Tour Service Ribbon
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Longevity Service Award with silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters
Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon
Air Force Training Ribbon
National Space Trophy
NASA "Top Fox" Flight Safety Award

Kevin Chilton was inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame on May 5, 2012[1] in a ceremony that took place at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

Air Force career resumed[edit | edit source]

Chilton left NASA in 1998 to become Deputy Director, Political Military Affairs for Asia, Pacific, and the Middle East on the Joint Staff. His first military command was the 9th Reconnaissance Wing (9 RW) at Beale AFB, California, from May 1999 to September 2000. In August 2004, Chilton assumed the dual duties of Commander, Eighth Air Force (8 AF) and Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space and Global Strike (JFCC SGS) at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. In April 2006, Chilton was nominated to become the Commander of the Air Force Space Command (AFSPC) at Peterson AFB, Colorado. On June 26, 2006, he received his fourth star and assumed command of Air Force Space Command.[2] Chilton then took command of the United States Strategic Command in October 2007, his last assignment before retiring. General Chilton is the only former astronaut to achieve four-star grade. Lieutenant General Tom Stafford, Vice Admiral Dick Truly and Lieutenant General Susan Helms have attained the rank of three stars.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Military offices
Preceded by
James Cartwright
Commander, United States Strategic Command
2007–2011
Succeeded by
C. Robert Kehler

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