Kevin P. Chilton

Kevin P. Chilton
Kevin Patrick "Chilli" Chilton
NASA Astronaut
Nationality United States of America
Status Retired
Born November 3, 1954 (1954-11-03) (age 57)
Los Angeles, California
Other occupation Test Pilot
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
United States Air Force
Time in space 29d 08h 22m
Selection 1987 NASA Group
Missions STS-49, STS-59, STS-76
Mission insignia Sts-49-patch.pngSts-59-patch.pngSts-76-patch.png

Kevin Patrick "Chilli" Chilton (born November 3, 1954), is an engineer and 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 for any military astronaut.


Early life

Born in Los Angeles, California, he graduated from St. Bernard High School, Playa del Rey, 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 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 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 Base, Florida, 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 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 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.

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

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

Gen Chilton left NASA in 1998 to become Deputy Director, Political Military Affairs for Asia, Pacific, and Middle East. His first military command was of 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, JFCC SGS at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana. In April 2006, Chilton was nominated to become the Commander of 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.[1] Chilton then took command of United States Strategic Command in Oct 2007 which was his last assignment before retiring. Chilton is the only former astronaut to achieve four-star grade. Lt Gen Tom Stafford, VADM Dick Truly and Lt Gen Susan Helms attained the rank of three stars.

Awards and decorations

USAF Master Astronaut badge.jpg
MSMO badge.jpg
Master missile ops badge.jpg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg Defense Meritorious Service ribbon.svg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation ribbon.svg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Combat Readiness Medal ribbon.svg Air Force Recognition Ribbon.svg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
USA - NASA Excep Rib.png
NASA Outstanding Leadership Ribbon.png
Bronze star
Global War on Terrorism Service ribbon.svg Korea Defense Service ribbon.svg
Air Force Overseas Short Tour Service Ribbon.svg
Silver oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
USAF Marksmanship ribbon.svg Air Force Training Ribbon.svg
  • Master Astronaut Badge
  • Master Space and Missile Operations Badge
  • Master Missile Operations Badge

See also

External links

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

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