Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms is Commander, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), Air Force Space Command; and Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. As the U.S. Air Force's operational space component to USSTRATCOM, General Helms leads more than 20,500 personnel responsible for providing missile warning, space superiority, space situational awareness, satellite operations, space launch and range operations. As Commander, JFCC SPACE, she directs all assigned and attached USSTRATCOM space forces providing tailored, responsive, local and global space effects in support of national, USSTRATCOM and combatant commander objectives.
General Helms was commissioned from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1980. She has served as an F-15 and F-16 weapons separation engineer and a flight test engineer. As a flight test engineer, General Helms has flown in 30 types of U.S. and Canadian military aircraft. She has also served as project officer on the CF-18 aircraft as a U.S. Air Force Exchange Officer to the Canadian Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment.
Selected by NASA in January 1990, General Helms became an astronaut in July 1991. On Jan. 13, 1993, then an Air Force major and a member of the space shuttle Endeavour crew, she became the first U.S. military woman in space. She flew on STS-54 (1993), STS-64 (1994), STS-78 (1996) and STS-101 (2000), and served aboard the International Space Station as a member of the Expedition-2 crew (2001). A veteran of five space flights, General Helms has logged 211 days in space, including a spacewalk of eight hours and 56 minutes, a world record. General Helms commanded the 45th Space Wing at Patrick AFB, Fla. Her staff assignments include tours at Headquarters Air Force Space Command, Air Education and Training Command, and U.S. Strategic Command.
1980 Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
1985 Master of Science degree in aeronautics/astronautics, Stanford University, Calif.
1988 Flight Test Engineer Course, USAF Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB, Calif.
1. July 1980 - March 1984, F-15/F-16 weapons separation engineer, Air Force Armament Laboratory, Eglin AFB, Fla.
2. March 1984 - June 1985, graduate student, Stanford University, Calif.
3. July 1985 - December 1987, assistant professor of aeronautics, U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colo.
4. January 1988 - December 1988, student, USAF Test Pilot School, Edwards AFB, Calif.
5. January 1989 - June 1990, CF-18 flight test engineer, Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment, Canadian Forces Base, Cold Lake, Alberta, Canada
6. July 1990 - July 2002, astronaut, Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas
7. July 2002 - June 2004, Chief, Space Superiority Division, Directorate of Requirements, Headquarters U.S. Air Force Space Command, Colorado Springs, Colo.
8. June 2004 - February 2005, Vice Commander, 45th Space Wing, Patrick AFB, Fla.
9. March 2005 - May 2006, Deputy Director, Operations (Technical Training), Headquarters Air Education and Training Command, Randolph AFB, Texas
10. June 2006 - October 2008, Commander, 45th Space Wing, Patrick AFB, Fla.
11. November 2008 - January 2011, Director of Plans and Policy, U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt AFB, Neb.
12. January 2011 - present, Commander, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic), Air Force Space Command, and Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, USSTRATCOM, Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
SUMMARY OF JOINT ASSIGNMENTS
1. November 2008 - January 2011, Director of Plans and Policy, U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt AFB, Neb., as a major general
2. January 2011 - present, Commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, USSTRATCOM, Vandenberg AFB, Calif., as a lieutenant general
MAJOR AWARDS AND DECORATIONS
Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters
Defense Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters
Meritorious Service Medal with oak leaf cluster
Air Force Commendation Medal
NASA Distinguished Service Medal
NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal
1983 Junior Engineer of the Year, Air Force Armament Laboratory
1988 Distinguished graduate, USAF Test Pilot School, and winner of the R.L. Jones Award for Outstanding Flight Test Engineer
1990 Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment Commanding Officer's Commendation, Canadian Forces, Canada
1996 Outstanding Young Houstonian
2002 Women in Aerospace Outstanding Achievement Award
2008 Dr. Kurt H. Debus Award for Aerospace Achievements and Contributions in Florida
2008 Thomas D. White Space Award for Outstanding Contributions to Space
2011 inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant May 28, 1980
First Lieutenant May 28, 1982
Captain May 28, 1984
Major Oct. 1, 1991
Lieutenant Colonel March 1, 1994
Colonel Feb. 1, 2000
Brigadier General June 23, 2006
Major General Aug. 2, 2009
Lieutenant General Jan. 21, 2011
(Current as of March 2014)