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July 17, 1998

James Hartsfield
Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX
281/483-5111

Release: J98-30

Chilton Will Depart NASA to Continue Air Force Career

Veteran astronaut Kevin Chilton, recently selected for promotion to the rank of Brigadier General in the U.S. Air Force, will leave NASA this summer to continue his military career. Chilton, a veteran of three space flights, has overseen the operational planning for the International Space Station since 1996 as Deputy Program Manager for Operations.

Frank L. Culbertson, who has led NASA’s Shuttle/Mir Program since August 1995, will be named Acting International Space Station Deputy Program Manager for Operations. Culbertson, a veteran of two space flights, has guided the Phase 1 Program through all but the first of the nine successful Shuttle-Mir docking missions to date and more than two years of continuous American presence aboard Russia's Mir Space Station.

"I would like to congratulate Colonel Chilton on his highly deserved promotion to Brigadier General. His distinguished service to NASA as an astronaut and Space Shuttle commander has enabled Kevin to provide critical operational and technical expertise to ISS operational planning. His leadership has been instrumental in our ability to begin on-orbit assembly this year and he will certainly be missed. We all wish him well in his next assignment," said Randy Brinkley, International Space Station Program Manager. "Having Frank Culbertson’s Phase One leadership and management experience and expertise applied to the International Space Station is certainly appropriate as we enter what will be one of the most challenging and exciting times in the history of space flight – the assembly of the International Space Station in orbit. His leadership as the Phase 1 program manager has been truly outstanding and all of us in the ISS Program look forward to his contributions and operational leadership."

A three-time Shuttle veteran, Chilton commanded STS-76, the third Space Shuttle docking mission to the Mir, aboard Atlantis in March 1996. He served as pilot of the Space Shuttle Endeavour on its maiden voyage, STS-49 in May 1992, which included a record four spacewalks to retrieve, repair and deploy the INTELSAT communications satellite. He also served as pilot of Endeavour on STS-59 in April 1994, carrying the Space Radar Laboratory to map features on the Earth's surface. Selected as an astronaut in June 1987, Chilton has logged more than 704 hours in space.

Culbertson, a retired Navy Captain, commanded Discovery on shuttle mission STS-51 in September 1993, deploying the Advanced Communications Technology Satellite and deploying and retrieving an astronomy satellite. He served as pilot of Atlantis in November 1990 on shuttle mission STS-38, a classified Department of Defense-dedicated mission. Selected as an astronaut in May 1984, Culbertson has logged more than 344 hours in space.

 

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