U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski on June 3 took over command of the Space and Missile Systems Center (SMC) at Los Angeles Air Force Base, Calif., becoming the first woman to lead the organization.

Pawlikowski replaced Air Force Lt. Gen. John “Tom” Sheridan, who has served as commander of SMC since May 2008 and now will retire from active duty, according to a May 31 Air Force press release.

Pawlikowski most recently commanded the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, from February 2010 through May 2011. She also has served as the deputy director of the National Reconnaissance Office and deputy commander of SMC.

SMC is the Pentagon’s primary satellite development center, with more than 5,000 employees and a $10 billion annual budget.