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Air Force Space Command general speaks at AFA conference

by Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

9/25/2007 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- General Kevin Chilton, Air Force Space Command commander, addressed hundreds of military members and civilians at the Air Force Association's Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition Sept. 25.

The general, nominated to become the head of U.S. Strategic Command, expounded on the history of Air Force space endeavors and what the future may hold for the nation's ventures into the final frontier.

"It was decided early on that there is a synergy between Air Force rocket development and launching satellites," General Chilton, a former astronaut, pointed out.

Although Space Command wasn't formally structured until 1982, the Air Force had been supporting the space mission since the end of World War II.

"It was on Air Force rockets that the Mercury and Gemini missions were flown in the 1960s," General Chilton said. "In the 1970s we developed the principle of global vigilance, reach and power. And by the Gulf War in 1991, the (global positioning system) was revolutionary.

"It illustrated the beauty and the power of Space Command," the general added.

After talking about the history of AFSPC, General Chilton spoke about the promise and possibilities of the future for the command.

He extolled the virtues of recapitalizing satellite systems that are already showing their worth. New systems that are already budgeted will improve GPS functions, missile warning and computer system bandwidth. 

He also described how the Air Force's space responsibilities affect everyone.

"Nothing we do is just for the Air Force," General Chilton said. "We're a part of the joint fight and our space systems support the combatant commanders."

In addition, the general took questions from the audience that ranged from creating a separate space service ("There are great synergies in working together and not creating a specific space force") to the use of kinetic weapons against satellites ("The last thing we need is to create more debris up there").

Overall, General Chilton said that Space Command is an important part of the Air Force mission.

"From the very beginning, we've been the 'cutting edge technology' service," General Chilton said. "It's our continued responsibility to operate in space." 

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