WASHINGTON — Blue Origin announced June 15 that former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff John Hyten will join Jeff Bezos’ space company as executive director of the firm’s Club for the Future foundation and as a strategic advisor.

Hyten, who retired in November after 40 years of service in the U.S. Air Force, was the nation’s second highest-ranking military officer. As vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs, he ran the Joint Requirements Oversight Council that oversees all military acquisitions. He previously served as commander of the Air Force Space Command and U.S. Strategic Command. An advocate for space programs, Hyten was a long-time critic of the plodding ways of the Pentagon, particularly in the development of next-generation weapon systems.

“We are deeply honored to have General Hyten apply his tremendous leadership skills and space expertise to Blue Origin and Club for the Future,” Bob Smith, CEO of Blue Origin, said in a statement.

As head of Club for the Future, Hyten will focus on community outreach and engagement activities to encourage students to become scientists, engineers and explorers, said Blue Origin. Hyten also will advise the company’s senior leadership.

“I’m excited to join Club for the Future and empower students from all backgrounds to pursue a career in STEM and make their dreams of working in space a reality,” Hyten said.

Hyten is joining Blue Origin as the company moves forward with the development of a heavy-lift rocket New Glenn, and looks to compete again to become a national security space launch services provider. Blue Origin in 2020 lost out to United Launch Alliance and SpaceX and is expected to offer New Glenn when the national security launch contracts are recompeted in 2024. 

Blue Origin also signed a cooperative agreement with the U.S. military to explore the possibility of using its rockets to transport cargo and people around the world. A cooperative research and development agreement was signed in December with the U.S. Transportation Command.

Sandra Erwin writes about military space programs, policy, technology and the industry that supports this sector. She has covered the military, the Pentagon, Congress and the defense industry for nearly two decades as editor of NDIA’s National Defense...