WASHINGTON — U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated Lt. Gen. John Hyten, to receive his fourth star and take over as commander of Air Force Space Command, the service’s top uniformed position for space, the Pentagon announced March 11.

Currently Hyten is vice commander of Air Force Space Command, which is responsible for designing, buying and operating the space-based capabilities of the U.S. Department of Defense. If confirmed by the Senate, Hyten would be promoted to general.

Industry officials, who had expected the move, said they do not foresee a significant departure under Hyten from the emerging space architecture vision advocated by Gen. William Shelton, the current commander of Air Force Space Command. Specifically, Hyten is expected to continue Shelton’s push for disaggregation, which favors smaller, less complex satellites, hosted payloads and other deployment schemes over the large, complex systems that have been the standard for decades.

Hyten has been vice commander of Air Force Space Command since May 2012. Previously he served as director of space programs for the office of the assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition.

Hyten holds a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a master’s degree from Auburn University.

In public remarks in recent years, Hyten has focused on providing more funding for cyberwarfare capabilities, a responsibility that falls in part under Space Command. 

“I’m a geek and I admit it. I’m proud of it. It’s a great thing,” Hyten said last year at the National Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colo., according to a transcript of the remarks. “But if you talk like a geek, you better be able to translate it to the warfighters of our Air Force and our Marines and our Navy and our Army because if you don’t, you can’t effectively explain the importance of this (cyber) domain to everything we do as warfighters.”

Shelton has not explicitly announced he will retire, but has hinted that he would do so sometime this year.

Follow Mike on Twitter: @Gruss_SN


Disaggregation Still Has Hearts and Minds to Win at Pentagon

Disaggregation Gets Traction in 2015 Pentagon Budget Request

Mike Gruss is a senior staff writer for SpaceNews. He joined the publication in January 2013 to cover military space. Previously, he worked as a reporter and columnist for The Virginian-Pilot in Norfolk, Va. and The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind. He...