Mr. Gary E. Payton is the Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space Programs, Washington, D.C. He provides guidance, direction and oversight for the formulation, review and execution of military space programs. This includes oversight of all space and space-related acquisition plans, strategies and assessments for research, development, test, evaluation and space-related industrial base issues. 

Mr. Payton earned his Bachelor of Science degree in astronautical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy and his Master of Science degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering from Purdue University. As an Air Force officer, he served as a pilot, instructor pilot, spacecraft operations director and space technology manager. In 1985, he flew as a payload specialist on board the Space Shuttle Discovery in the first military flight of the space shuttle program. He retired from the Air Force in the rank of colonel after more than 23 years of service, with his last duty in the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization. While there, he was responsible for directing the development of sensor and interceptor technologies for detecting, tracking, discriminating targets, and intercepting ballistic missiles in all phases of flight. He was instrumental in the initiation and management of the Midcourse Sensor Experiment, the Lightweight Exo-Atmospheric Projectile, Delta-183, Talon Shield, Clementine and the DC-X launch vehicle technology project.

Mr. Payton has also served as NASA's Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Transportation Technology where he initiated, planned and led the Reusable Launch Vehicle technology demonstration program, which included the X-33, X-34, X-37 and DC-XA flight test projects. His responsibilities included program formulation, budget preparation and program advocacy with Congress, the White House, the Department of Defense and the media. For two years he was the Senior Vice President of Engineering and Operations for ORBIMAGE, a leading global provider of Earth imagery products and services. Prior to his current position, Mr. Payton served as the Deputy for Advanced Systems in the Missile Defense Agency. There he led the MDA technology program to enhance ballistic missile defense sensor, weapon and battle management capabilities.

1971 Distinguished graduate, Bachelor of Science degree in astronautical engineering, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
1972 Master of Science degree in aeronautical and astronautical engineering, Purdue University, Ind.

1. 1972 - 1976, U.S. Air Force pilot and instructor pilot, Craig AFB, Ala.
2. 1976 - 1980, Spacecraft Launch Director, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.
3. 1980 - 1984, U.S. Air Force pilot and engineer, Spacecraft System Program Office, Los Angeles AFS, Calif.
4. 1985 - 1986, payload specialist, Space Shuttle Discovery (STS-51C), Houston, Texas
5. 1986 - 1990, Assistant Deputy for Technology and executive officer to the Director, Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, Washington, D.C.
6. 1990 - 1991, student, Air War College, Maxwell AFB, Ala.
7. 1992 - 1994, Deputy for Technology, Ballistic Missile Defense Organization, Washington, D.C.
8. 1995 - 2000, Deputy Associate Administrator for Space Launch Technology, Headquarters NASA, Washington, D.C.
9. 2000 - 2002, Senior Vice President for Engineering and Operations, ORBIMAGE, Dulles, Va.
10. 2002 - 2005, Deputy for Advanced Systems, Missile Defense Agency, Washington, D.C.
11. 2005 - present, Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force for Space Programs, Washington, D.C.

Defense Superior Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster
Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Air Force Commendation Medal
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Air Force Organizational Excellence Award
National Defense Service Medal
Vietnam Service Medal
1989 Purdue Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award
1997 NASA Creative Management Award
1999 Purdue Outstanding Aerospace Engineer Award
2004 Meritorious Executive Presidential Rank Award 

(Current as of October 2009)