Edward Vernon Rickenbacker (October 8, 1890 – July 23, 1973) was an American fighter ace in World War I and a Medal of Honor recipient. With 26 aerial victories, he was the United States’ most successful fighter ace in the war and is considered to have received the most awards for valor by an American during the war. He was also a race car driver and automotive designer, a government consultant in military matters and a pioneer in air transportation, particularly as the long-time head of Eastern Air Lines.

1. He loved auto racing. In his first automobile race, Rickenbacker failed to finish after crashing through an outer fence. Nevertheless, his passion for speed was confirmed. That summer he went on to win most of the dirt track races he entered, including five of six at Omaha’s Aksarben Festival in October.

2. Rickenbacker was accident-prone. In his autobiography, he recounted numerous scrapes he had in his early years. Even before entering school, he toddled into an oncoming horse-drawn streetcar and fell twelve feet into an open cistern.

3. He almost lost his life to a fire. Early in his school career, he ran back into his burning school building to retrieve his winter coat, and nearly paid for it with his life.

4. He was a gardener and farmer. He helped in the garden (potatoes, cabbages, and turnips) and with the animals (chickens, goats, and pigs)

5. He was streetwise and tough. He also had a sensitive and artistic side, too. He enjoyed painting watercolors of “flowers and scenery and animals.”[6] Art was a passion he hoped to pursue as a career.

6. Rickenbacker made his first sortie with Reed Chambers on April 13, which almost ended in disaster when both became lost and Chambers had to make a forced landing. Flight commander David Peterson called Rickenbacker a “bloody fool for flying off in a fog.

7. On May 28, he claimed his fifth victory to become an ace. Rickenbacker was awarded the French Croix de Guerre that month for his five victories. This success did not mean the end of difficulties, however. Several times he almost fired on friendly planes. He nearly crashed when the fabric on his Nieuport’s wing tore off in a dive. He mourned the death of Lufbery. And his guns kept jamming whenever he went in for the kill.

8. Rickenbacker was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross a record eight times.

9. He was also awarded the Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre by France.

10. In 1919, Rickenbacker was discharged from the Army Air Service with the rank of captain, which he had obtained sometime in September.

Needs to Succeed

A look at improvements required for U.S. space warfare capability

By: Lt. Col. Michael A. Buck, USAF (Ret), Daedalian Life Member #128

     With the creation of the U.S. Space Force two years ago, many of our nation’s traditional military space activities have been consolidated under its umbrella. These missions include 1. Missile warning and tracking. 2. Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation and timing. 3. Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR). 4. Global communications. 

     On Jan. 18, 2022, retired Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton participated in a Mitchell Spacepower Forum with Gen. John W. “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations for the U.S. Space Force. Raymond described the activities and results of those first two years as being focused on ensuring that the traditional space missions continue to be executed while establishing a lean and responsive organizational structure comprised of 15 mission-focused “Deltas” (a Delta is the Space Force equivalent to an Air Force Wing).  

     Raymond promised a “bold budget” request in 2024 and the creation of a “capability development program” to rapidly get space-related “warfighting capability in the hands of our operators.”

Chilton characterizes these necessary activities as “organizing for success,” but he is convinced that while such improvements are important, they are not sufficient. He contends that the U.S. must move beyond the traditional space missions if the nation is to capitalize on the full potential of spacepower. 

     Achieving the new space capabilities that the country needs will require a significant shift in the U.S. leadership’s view of space –— a shift that recognizes space itself is a warfighting domain and not just a means of supporting warfighters in the traditional warfighting domains of land, sea and air.


     “As recently as 2015, policy prevented our military from even talking about warfighting in space,” Chilton said. [1] To Chilton, it is clear that space — whether we like it or not — is now a warfighting domain.  

     “Our adversaries know this, and it is why they are fielding weapons capable of destroying U.S. satellites that deliver intelligence, navigation, missile warning and global communications to our forces,” he said. [1]

     Examples abound of our adversaries’ intentions to conduct offensive warfare in space. On Nov. 15, 2021, Russia conducted an anti-satellite (ASAT) test using a ground-based missile that shot down one of its own satellites, Cosmos 1408. China’s arsenal of counterspace weapons includes direct-ascent missiles, co-orbital weapons, ground-based lasers, high power microwaves, offensive cyber tools to compromise information networks and electronic warfare capabilities to jam or otherwise interfere with common satellite communication bands. These weapons are supported by a robust network of space surveillance capabilities that can locate, characterize, track and facilitate counterspace targeting of space assets
in all orbits.

     Chilton asserts that U.S. space policy must embrace these realities.  

     “The highest levels of government must recognize that space is a contested domain. This may seem obvious given Chinese and Russian behavior, but some remain uncomfortable — let alone supportive — discussing of fielding the necessary offensive and defensive capabilities required to operate and survive in space,” Chilton said. [1]


     According to Chilton, “The Space Force cannot continue to simply procure incrementally better versions of the same kinds of exquisite space systems the U.S. military has relied on in the past. They are too few in number, unresponsive to new missions and lag both the evolving threat environment and cutting-edge technologies.”[2]

     Chilton explains that it is time to invest in new, much-needed space capabilities.  

     “Our first goal should be to deter adversaries from attacking our critical space assets. To effectively deter attacks — and win, should deterrence fail — our Space Force commanders will need weapon systems that can defend our assets and hold adversaries’ space capabilities at immediate risk.” [1]


     Our current space systems are highly vulnerable to attack; their orbits are predictable, thus they can be easily tracked by adversaries. They have extremely limited maneuver capacity for defensive actions to avoid such attacks. Their propulsion systems were designed only to make small adjustments in their orbits, and so they produce little thrust and have very limited supplies of propellant.

     To greatly increase the maneuverability of our orbital systems, a new type of propulsion system must be developed. One option is to provide future spacecraft with Space Nuclear Propulsion (SNP) systems.  

     One example of SNP is a nuclear thermal rocket engine. Such engines use the heat produced by a small fission reactor to heat liquid hydrogen to a very high temperature; the hot hydrogen gas then is expelled through a rocket nozzle to create thrust that greatly exceeds that of conventional chemical rockets while using far less propellant.  Such a rocket can produce enough power to accelerate a typical automobile from 0 to 60 miles per hour in just 0.3 seconds. [3]  

     The ability to change a vehicle’s velocity is known to rocket engineers as Delta-V (pronounced “Delta Vee”).  Nuclear thermal rocket engines can create a very large Delta-V, dramatically increasing the maneuverability of our spacecraft. That maneuverability is so crucial to space operations that Chilton refers to Delta-V as “the coin of the realm.” [3]

     A nuclear rocket engine may sound like something out of science fiction, but the concept actually dates to the 1950s. NASA’s Nuclear Engine for Rocket Vehicle Application (NERVA) program made great strides in this area in the early 1960s, ultimately producing an engine certified for flight. However, funding for NERVA decreased in the late 1960s and the program was canceled in 1973 before any flight tests of the engine took place. Later, the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) pursued a nuclear rocket program for missile and space defense weapons systems, but in the early 1990s that too was canceled.

     Spacecraft equipped with a nuclear thermal rocket engine could maneuver freely from one orbital path to another, to include moving from low Earth orbit (LEO) to geosynchronous orbit (GEO), and all the way out to orbits located between Earth and the moon, a region termed “cislunar space.” This increased maneuverability would not only improve the survivability of satellites that support traditional space missions but also enable the creation of spacecraft that can conduct offensive actions against adversary space systems.

     Chilton’s team at the Mitchell Institute is making the case for SNP. Christopher Stone, Senior Fellow for Space Studies at the Institute’s Space Power Advantage Center of Excellence recently published a policy paper on the subject titled “Maneuver Warfare in Space: The Strategic Mandate for Nuclear Propulsion.” In it, Stone notes that “China’s space maneuver warfare forces will include vehicles with nuclear propulsion that are capable of rapidly transferring between Earth orbits and in cislunar space. This would give China the capability to rapidly maneuver between operational earth orbits and out to cislunar space as needed for deterrence and warfighting advantage.” Stone concludes, “The U.S. Space Force must adopt a new force design that includes satellites and with nuclear propulsion capable of decisive maneuver warfighting advantages from, to and in space. Space nuclear propulsion will expedite DOD’s transition from its dependency on vulnerable satellites locked in predictable orbits to a more dynamic, survivable force structure that is capable of winning.” [3] 

     Fortunately, such work is already underway. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is continuing the development of nuclear thermal rocket engines to power its Demonstration Rocket for Agile Cislunar Operations (DRACO) program.  The program’s goal is to demonstrate a nuclear thermal rocket propulsion system in orbit, thus paving the way to operational systems. Naturally, safety considerations are an integral part of the DRACO program — the flight-ready system will be built to prevent any radioactive elements from escaping even if there is a launch mishap or if the rocket were to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere.

1. Defense News, Jan. 28, 2022.

2. The Backbone of JADC2: Satellite Communications for Information Age Warfare, Mitchell Policy Paper Vol. 32, December 2021, By Gen. Kevin Chilton, USAF (Ret).

3. Maneuver Warfare in Space: The Strategic Mandate for Nuclear Propulsion, Mitchell Policy Paper Vol. 33, January 2022, By Christopher Stone .

A Warfighting Domain

How we got here and where we are going

By: Ms. Autumn Bernhard, Daedalus Flyer Editor & Order of Daedalians Communications Manager

Since the first satellite was launched into orbit in 1957, we have had a continuous fascination with the final frontier. However, the thought of space becoming a warfighting domain wasn’t in our line of sight. But, for retired Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton, this idea was lightyears away from farfetched. In fact, he, along with the majority of his predecessors at Air Force Space Command, saw the writing on the wall. It was just a matter of time before we would look to the stars as our next fighting territory.

“There has never been a domain that we have not decided to fight in,” Chilton said. “Whether on land, on sea, underwater or in the air. Every time, we have been able to operate in a new domain, eventually, when war broke out, the conflict extended into that domain. So, the notion that space was somehow going to be different never crossed my mind, and I know it didn’t cross any of my predecessors. They all believed that we would end up there someday.”

That someday is today.


     Since the end of the Cold War, we have assumed we held military superiority, all the while, adversaries such as China and Russia have been looking at space warfighting as a way to gain an advantage. According to Chilton, we started recognizing this vulnerability in 2015.

     “In the last year of President Obama’s administration, we started to see intelligence indicating what the Chinese were doing,” he said. “We realized our approach of being passive and encouraging restraint was not working, and we needed to change our policies with regard to securing the space domain for national security reasons.”

     The Department of Defense’s 2020 Defense Space Strategy stated, “space is now a distinct warfighting domain, demanding enterprise-wide changes to policies, strategies, operations, investments, capabilities and expertise for a new strategic environment.” That same year, General John W. “Jay” Raymond, Chief of Space Operations, United States Space Force, said “it is clear today that space is a warfighting domain just like air, land and sea,” and that he “couldn’t have said that five or six years ago,” making it clear the necessity of a strong space strategy.

     “We didn’t want space to become a warfighting domain, and we still frankly don’t today, but adversaries have evolved,” Raymond said.

     Due to that evolution, U.S. military officials have recognized that our satellites no longer hold a sanctuary in space, and our military superiority cannot be taken for granted.

     “We forgot our adversaries get a vote, and that’s typically what happens,” Chilton said. “Someone else figures out how to build a boat, submarine or airplane, and the next thing you know, you’re either ahead or behind but you’re going in that direction. You are going to have to figure out how to dominate that domain to either deter conflict or win if deterrence fails.”

     Retired Air Force Gen. Kevin P. Chilton is the Explorer Chair at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies Spacepower Advantage Center of Excellence (MI-SPACE).

     “I thought if I could contribute to the space domain, which I believe the Mitchell Institute does, and we can help educate folks on the important issues and get the debate out in the open, it gets people thinking and hopefully making good decisions for National Security going forward,” he said.

     Retiring in 2011, Chilton served for 34.5 years in the Air Force, most recently holding the title of Commander of U.S. Strategic Command from 2007 to 2011. He has commanded at the wing, numbered air force, major command and unified combatant command levels including serving as Commander of Air Force Space Command. 

     He flew operational assignments in both the R-4C and F-15, and as an Air Force test pilot, conducting weapons tests in various models of the F-4 and F-15. 

     His career includes serving 11 years as a NASA astronaut, where he flew as the Commander of STS-76, his third Space Shuttle mission, and served as the Deputy Program Manager for Operations for the International Space Station Program. 

     Chilton was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from Creighton University, was a Columbia University Guggenheim Fellow earning a Master of Science degree in mechanical engineering and is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force pilot training and test pilot schools, as well as a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in engineering sciences.


     According to the United States Space Force website, the formal establishment of the United States Space Force on Dec. 20, 2019, resulted from the acceptance that space was a “national security imperative” and the acknowledgment that the growing threats by others created a “need for a military service focused solely on pursuing superiority in the space domain.”

     Chilton compares Space Force’s creation to that of the United States Air Force in September 1947. The possibility of an air component providing a strategically decisive effect on the outcome of battle was discussed in the 1920s and 30s. It was then tested in World War II, and the answer was a resounding, yes. Thus, the Air Force was created independent of the Army Air Corps.

     “We’ve already broken away the Space Force from the Air Force, now the question is can we do a similar thing,” he said. “Space has been an enabler of air, land and sea operations. Could it also provide a strategically decisive outcome to a conflict? Something tells me, in this regard, there will come a day when there are capabilities delivered from space that will directly affect the outcome of battle beyond the capabilities provided today.”

     Space continues to provide important communications, intelligence and missile-warning surveillance operations, and the main topic of conversation has focused on resiliency.

     “We are working on resilient architectures so we can continue to deliver the capabilities our air, land and sea forces have relied upon to conduct warfare in their domain,” he said. “We want to make them more survivable in the future because they are not today.”


     But that is not where the work ends. According to Chilton, we need to work to hold our adversaries’ assets at risk — build the offensive capability.

     Chilton outlines two main jobs that the United States needs to achieve in space to be successful: deterrence and superior capability.

     “You want to have a dominant force fielded, so you can deter an adversary from starting a war or crossing red lines that you have set with respect to your national interests,” Chilton said. “A mentor of mine told me a long time ago, that countries go to war because they have no other choice or because they think they can win. We certainly want to eliminate the second one. You don’t ever want someone to think they can beat you, otherwise, they just might try.”

     This level of deterrence has been achieved in the air, land and sea domains.

     “Credible deterrence requires credible capabilities and a will to use them,” he said. “We need to have great tools so when the adversary looks at them, how well trained our people are and what we are willing to do, they decide they are not going to cross that threshold and attack our assets.”

     When weaknesses are identified, patching them promptly is required to avoid uncertainty in the adversaries’ minds.

     “Unless we have an offensive capability to hold their similar assets at risk, I fear we will fail to deter them and if a conflict or war breaks out, we will have none of the capabilities that we depend on, and they will retain all of theirs,” he said.

     The space capabilities military and civilians rely on are endless. They include global communications, intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, missile warning, precision navigation and timing and accurate weather data to name a few.

     “So, if we want to continue to provide those capabilities to the air, land and sea forces, we must have superiority in space first,” he said. “This means we have to be able to defend our assets, and we need to be able to attack our adversaries.”

     That’s where the superior capability comes in — the same superiority we demand in every other domain. When deterrence fails, we need to be able to win on our terms. 

     “U.S. Space Command, the U.S. warfighter, should demand and receive support from air, land and sea forces to help gain superiority in the space domain,” Chilton said. “If you’re going to hold an adversary’s satellites at risk, you should develop capabilities to do this that can be projected from air, land and sea forces.  There should be a demand function on them to support the space domain, just as there is a demand function on the space domain to support.”


     While future space capabilities are undetermined, Chilton believes there is still a large hurdle discouraging this progression — policy.

     “Just listening to the way we talk about the domain, I’m concerned that we are still constraining it in a way that we don’t any other warfighting domain,” he said. “We say we recognize it as a warfighting domain but there still appears to be policies in place to constrain what we are allowed to reveal and do. 

     “You can’t imagine air, land and sea forces being told they can’t develop offensive capability — that all they can do is build more resilient architecture to hopefully survive an attack by the adversary. That’s like telling the Army we are going to buy body armor but no guns and hopefully that will deter the adversary and hopefully you will survive.”

     The lack of focus on offensive capability comes down to two things for Chilton. We are either not allowing it to happen or it’s incredibly classified and we aren’t talking about it.

     “If it’s the former, that’s a mistake, in that we are essentially setting ourselves up for a defeat,” he said. “If it’s the latter, that approach is ineffective to deter. The adversary must know at some level what the risk is to their forces if they misbehave. If you can’t show any cost or denial of benefit, then they are undeterred, and they will think they have free reign.”


     Chilton remembers getting very detailed satellite photos of an airplane being developed in the Soviet Union. Because of the precision of the photo, engineers identified the likely performance of the aircraft — how far and high it could fly, its likely speed and its purpose. 

     “We have exquisite capabilities from orbit delivered by the National Intelligence assets we have,” he said. “They are very critical to making assessments about adversaries’ capabilities, and they answer other critical strategic intelligence requests for our national leadership. That is invaluable, and we need it. But the warfighter doesn’t need that exquisite level of intelligence to conduct effective operations.”

     Instead, they need to know more basic information —  where the adversary forces are located and if they have been eliminated after a strike. Chilton refers to this as operational intelligence, as opposed to strategic intelligence.

     “That type of intelligence can be lower resolution and lower fidelity, which means the satellites that collect operational intelligence can be less expensive, so you can buy more of them,” he said. “This means you can have higher revisit rates which means that a commander has more real-time understanding of what is happening on the battlefield than he ever would have today just using the national assets.”

     According to Chilton, U.S. commercial satellite companies have already deployed imaging and signal collection satellites that show the utility of this approach.

      “I think the military and Space Force can have a role of fielding constellations of reconnaissance satellites with the sole purpose of the satellite being providing direct support to the combatant commanders,” he said. “I think there is a great opportunity for this to expand and finally attempt to address combatant commander’s insatiable desire for operational reconnaissance of the battlespace.”


     Chilton is excited about what is in store for Space Force and space as a warfighting domain. While we are at a “pivotal moment in the space domain,” he believes we need to let people start to think of the realm of possibility without constraints. 

     “From a skill perspective, I think the Space Force is focusing on a lot of the right things, and they are having great success recruiting exceptional talent,” he said. “We’ve never failed on wielding a dominant force in the other domains. We have found how to create cross-domain effects in every other domain, so I find it hard to believe that at some point, we won’t do the same for space.”

The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies is an independent, nonpartisan research organization established to provide fact-based policy options that better empower our nation’s leaders by informing the national security debate, educating about the essential role of aerospace power in securing America’s global interests and cultivating aerospace-minded talent. This involves questioning established doctrine, organizational constructs and operational concepts, asking whether there are better ways to meet national security goals. The Mitchell Institute provides independent analysis based on science, history and data outlining the right solutions in the aerospace domain.

Our Link to Communication

Low Earth orbit satellite to enhance situational awareness

By: 1st Lt. Nick Nowland, USAF, Daedalian Member #4921

Drones, missile strikes and late-night raids on enemy high-value targets — these are the bits of news that occasionally percolate out of the United States’ ongoing conflicts. However, behind all the advanced technology and dramatic action, there is a system that provides American forces with their real secret weapon: situational awareness of the battlefield. Precise weapons, high flying aircraft and meticulously trained special operators are only useful if you can determine friend from foe in the battle-space, and more importantly, know where they are located. Situational awareness, or SA, is the fuel that keeps the U.S. military’s combat operations running.

     Military leaders throughout history have understood the importance of SA, and it has been a consistent feature of great generals from Caesar to Zhukov. A commander who better understands their troop’s location in relation to the enemy can seize the offensive initiative and attack with confidence. The need for greater combat SA became especially clear to the American military in World War Two. Studies noted that those on the battlefield with the most SA usually lacked efficient means to accurately communicate that information to those units in need of that awareness. This was particularly clear during the massive Japanese kamikaze attacks on the U.S. Navy during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945. The Navy could not effectively vector intercepting fighters onto kamikazes early enough to prevent the Japanese from killing almost 5,000 sailors and sinking dozens of ships. The U.S. military did not forget those painful lessons, and by the 1960s, the Navy and Air Force were both developing technologies to enable units on the battlefield to share information about their location and the position of enemy units.

     One of these technologies developed into a system the U.S. military still uses today. The system has had a variety of names, but its current label is Link 16. It is a family of technologies that use radios as tactical data links that enable air, ground and sea assets to communicate and track each other’s locations on screens. Link 16 users can also share battlefield points of interest and identify enemies. Thus, a soldier sitting in a Humvee under camouflage netting can have the same level of SA as a command-and-control aircraft circling the battlefield at 20,000 feet.

     Link 16 is critical in the United States’ current conflicts for a variety of reasons, with one of its most useful aspects lying in its ability to help large numbers of aircraft in small operating areas safely deconflict. However, as the U.S. prepares for great power competitions, Link 16 will become even more critical. Quickly differentiating friend from foe is vital when that foe is a highly capable SU-35 darting towards friendly aircraft or when an unidentified vehicle is a Russian multiple-launch-rocket-system about to unleash a barrage on American infantry. Seconds matter in these life-and-death situations, and Link 16 helps
arm combatants with the information they need to make split-second decisions.

     Fortunately, Link 16 is becoming even more capable as the Air Force is working with private industry to build a low Earth orbit satellite capable of extending the range of Link 16 networks and connecting them to larger constellations of satellites. This spacecraft represents a crucial step in the effort to transform Link 16 from a line-of-sight to a beyond-line-of-sight system that will greatly improve its SA — providing additional capabilities. Building Link 16 transmitters into new satellites is also relatively inexpensive, thus adding Link 16 capabilities to planned satellites is financially feasible and would enable a fleet of them to provide persistent coverage for military assets around the globe. A greater number of satellites also means the system is more durable and can survive an enemy destroying a number of satellites, a real possibility in future conflicts. 

     Furthermore, the battlegrounds of the future will certainly involve mass amounts of communications jamming, and the network infrastructure of Link 16 makes it resistant to this. For a future armored company commander sitting on a battlefield seething with electronic warfare that renders most of their radios useless, Link 16 may be the only connection to friendly forces this lonely commander may possess. It could be their sole means of understanding the battlefield beyond the scopes of their tank sights and Mark I eyeballs. 

     Thus, if amateurs talk tactics and professionals talk logistics, then forward-looking thinkers should talk Link 16.

A Pilot’s View: The U.S. Space Force

Commentary By: Lt. Col. Ron Davis, USAF (Ret), Daedalian Life Member #238

The founding of the United States Space Force in 2019 marked a milestone in our defense establishment. It is the first new military service created since the U.S. Air Force in 1947. Its creation acknowledged the importance of space operations and advanced technology, both as a capability in and of itself, but more importantly as a set of tools that have become force multipliers for our warfighters.

     Founding the Space Force was certainly less contentious than the decades-long battle for an independent Air Force. We didn’t see any bombing of captured battleships, public accusations about safety or a very visible court-martial to sway public opinion. There wasn’t even a small group of air-minded junior officers at the then-Maxwell Field creating a fraternal order to advocate for and honor military aviation. While the concept had been discussed decades ago, in 2017, several influential congressional advocates pushed for its establishment. After getting endorsed by President Donald Trump, it was made part of the 2019 Defense Authorization Bill. 

     Partnered with the Air Force in the Department of the Air Force, the Space Force now boasts its own four-star leadership — highly experienced in space operations — a headquarters at the Pentagon and a personnel cadre. Many of its initial members, some 16,000 at this time, transferred from the Air Force; however, procedures are in place for personnel from other branches to transfer in. 

     According to USSF’s website, to minimize cost and duplication, the Department of the Air Force will continue to “provide support functions that includes logistics, base operating support, civilian personnel management, business systems, IT support, audit agencies, etc.” The enabling legislation mandated a “zero-sum” standup budget, with clearly worded guidance on avoiding duplication of efforts.

     Today’s Space Force bases are mission-centered and have long histories of supporting the space mission.

Buckley Space Force Base, Colorado, has a long history of space surveillance and missile warning operations. It now manages the legacy and developing systems for this highly technical task.

Los Angeles Space Force Base, California, has hosted the Department of Defense’s premier space development and acquisition activity for over 65 years. Now designated Space Systems Command, that organization manages an annual $11 billion budget that covers the full spectrum of space system development and sustainment.

Patrick Space Force Base, Florida, and its associated Eastern Range look back on more than 70 years as America’s busiest space portal. The current launch pace at Patrick Space Force Base/Cape Canaveral Space Force Station and the adjoining NASA Kennedy Space Center were at an all-time high of 37 successful launches in 2021, driven in part by the success and energy of commercialized space access. Its mission falls under the Space Systems Command.

Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado, transitioned from the Air Force to the Space Force in 2020. Its mission is varied but includes hosting the Space Operations Command, which in turn oversees most other ongoing Space Force activities, including the Space Training and Readiness Command. 

Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, headquartered at Peterson Space Force Base, Colorado. This operating location performs most of the control functions for our nation’s space assets. For pilots, that includes the vital GPS.

Vandenberg Space Force Base, California, provides operational, geographic and technical advantages compared to other launch venues, especially in testing long-range weapons (its mission for many years in support of the Strategic Air Command), and in enabling launch to polar orbits. It is also subordinate to Los Angeles-based Space Systems Command.

     The Space Force is developing its own formal and informal culture, uniforms and duty titles. It certainly has captured a younger generation’s attention. According to the Air Force Academy, of the 1,019 2021 graduates, 114 of those are commissioning into the
Space Force. 

     Whether the Space Force will grow a unique culture such as the Marine Corps does within the Department of the Navy, or focuses on its technology-heavy mission, will soon be seen. For instance, will there be any aviation element within the Space Force? This will be seen later. In the meantime, we can look back some 70 years, and remind ourselves that the Air Force still had privates and corporals as late as 1952. Change happens, and usually at its own pace.

A Sit Down with a NASA Solar System Ambassador

By: Ms. Autumn Bernhard, Daedalus Flyer Editor & Order of Daedalians Communications Manager

Autumn Bernhard: What drew you to the Navy?

Tim Pinkney: It all started when I was 5 years old when I first took control of the family airplane. My dad had been a co-pilot and flew B-24 bombers, so when he got out of the service, he bought himself an airplane. My mom learned to fly and became quite an accomplished aviatrix. So, I was flying at 5. I got my private pilot’s license when I was three months out of high school, and got my multi-engine rating shortly before I joined the Navy. Dad was an enthusiast in glider soaring, so he and I had father-son competitions. He held the record for the highest non-engine flight of 34,000 feet over the Colorado Rockies. I held the family endurance record for staying aloft for 6.5 hours.

I was born and raised in an aviation family, so military service was the way to go. I asked my dad which service I should go into knowing he was Army Air Corps/Air Force, assuming he would say Air Force. But he said, “Go first-class; go Navy.” After graduation in the 1970s, I went through flight training and got my wings of gold. I got stashed at Naval Air Station Lemoore as a navigation aid. I was itching to go to Vietnam, but the war was “over” in ’73 with the peace agreement, and I thought I missed my opportunity at a career. Every aspiring officer needs to have a war in their resume if they wanted to go up the ranks. I planned to be an admiral, so I was really disappointed that I didn’t get to go to war.

But we joined an electronic warfare squadron, VAQ-137, and it sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge for Vietnam the day my daughter turned 2. When I got back, she was nearly 3. My dad met me at the dock with my family and I said, “Why is the Navy first class?” The short version is, the Army Air Corp always lived in tents and he was stationed at Kodiak, Alaska, so there were pretty harsh conditions. “But the Navy got Quonset huts, and man was that first class,” dad said. I learned to always ask when someone says something is the best to ask why.

I joined the Navy Reserves after seven years of active duty. I spent 15 years in the Reserves with the same squadron. So we started as young junior officers, and 12 years later, we were all commanding officers as our seniority gained. I continued to fly gliders and took my last flight less than a year ago.

AB: Where did your attraction to the last frontier come from?

TP: When we lived in Redondo Beach, (then)-Vandenberg Air Force Base launched a missile when I was 9. As it took off into the sunset, we watched the vapor trail and that created my fascination with space. I had, until recently, put down a deposit with Virgin Galactic to go to space. I wanted to be an astronaut, and I looked at the application back when I was on the aircraft carrier. I didn’t have enough math to enter, so I didn’t. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to go to space. So, I was willing to buy my way into it. But when Virgin Galactic raised their prices to $450,000, I thought I could do a lot more good to help the world rather than help my childhood dream by investing the money somewhere else. Blue Origin hasn’t set their price yet, so I’m waiting to see. I’m not giving up. There have been less than 500 people to space ever, so that number is going to double very quickly, but to still be out of 7 billion people to get off Earth and look at it, is something I look forward to.

The NASA Solar System Ambassador program is a public engagement effort that works with motivated volunteers across the nation to communicate the science and excitement of NASA’s space exploration missions and discoveries with the people in their communities.

AB: How did you become a NASA Solar System Ambassador?

TP: A friend invited me to a presentation he was making as a NASA Solar System Ambassador. I thought, “Gee, I could do that and would love to do that.” In my first three years (2016-2019), I did 50 presentations. In 2020, I did 24 and last year 21. The requirement is three a year. Being an ambassador allows me to be a space geek and remain the excited 9-year-old that saw his first rocket!

AB: What is the process like to become an ambassador?

TP: As of last year, there were 1,071 ambassadors throughout the United States. It takes some vetting, but you don’t have to be a rocket scientist. You just have to have an interest in space. There is an orientation on what an ambassador does and an ethics class as well. We are ethically required to report honest things and not make things up. We don’t have to run our presentations by NASA. NASA invites us to almost weekly programs online where an expert speaks on their subject. For example, we got to have a one-hour presentation on the Mars Rover Perseverance team that drives the rover, what they look at and the decisions they made. So I have access to a library of more than eight years of presentations on almost any topic in the solar system.

AB: What do your presentations cover?

TP: I have 15 already prepared presentations — one on every planet and then some of the specific missions. Most people want to have relevance in the presentations. Two libraries wanted a 10-month seminar starting with the sun and working our way through the planets and touching on a few other topics I didn’t have knowledge about that. So I took what NASA made available to the ambassadors. Some ambassadors have an astronomy focus, some have an astrobiological focus, so they tend to be narrower. I just look at what NASA gives me and go from there.

AB: Who is in the presentation audience?

TP: My youngest has been 5 years old, he knew amazing stuff. I’ve also given presentations to people who were all seniors. Inspiring the youth is something I’ve always wanted to do. With the Aerospace Museum in California, where I was on the board of directors for 10 years and the deputy director in the interim period while they searched for a permanent fit, our focus was 5th-grade kids. I would do presentations there and to see their eyes light up, and do hands-on things. All we are trying to do is out of a class of 100, spark three or five kids into STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). I’m amazed by what the American public does not know about the space program. It is wonderful to inform, educate and expose people to what our space program is. I was thinking about how long I wanted to do this. I’m enthusiastic about life, and I’m super enthusiastic about space, so as long as I have life, I think I will be doing space.

AB: What excites you about what NASA is doing today?

TP: Almost every planet has something going on. It not only excites me, but it captivates me. The Parker Solar Probe: We have never had a probe get that close to the sun, it’s literally touching the corona. Juno was launched in 2011 to Jupiter. Cassini has been on Saturn for 13 years. Ingenuity, the Mars Helicopter, landed in 2021. In 2027, we are launching Dragonfly — a drone that’s the size of a pick-up truck, eight blades, 900 pounds and is nuclear powered — to Saturn’s moon, Titan — the only named moon with an atmosphere and it has liquid on it. It will land in 2034. James Webb Space Telescope (Webb) is going to answer questions we don’t even know to ask. It will be stunning, and we are going back to within 200 million years of the Big Bang —13.7 billion years ago — we are going back 13.5 billion years. We are going to see the first stars, and the first galaxies form. It’s going to revolutionize astrophysics and our understanding of what happened in the Big Bang. In one year, we will be saying, “Before Webb, we believed and understood this, and now it’s different.” We know the universe is expanding. We know that galaxies are together because of gravitational pull, but they are getting further and further apart and losing their gravity so everything will go into blackness. Webb is going to tell us a lot about that. It took 9 years to design and redesign Webb, 11 years to build it and 5 years of testing and making sure everything worked right. NASA worked to make sure it was deployed without any hitches. They have learned so much and prepared so well.

Being an ambassador allows me to be a space geek and remain the excited 9-year-old that saw his first rocket!

AB: What are your thoughts on space now being considered a warfighting domain?

TP: I don’t feel adequate to talk about the military aspects of that, but it’s a much-needed branch. If I were that age, that’s the branch I would want to be in. China is the scary force to be reckoned with in all aspects. I think scientist to scientist, there’s not a problem. It’s just forms of government — democracy versus communism — that gets in the way. We will be fighting that for quite some time because if we don’t we will all be speaking Chinese.

2022: The Year of Space

By: Ms. Autumn Bernhard, Daedalus Flyer Editor & Order of Daedalians Communications Manager

Science fiction dubbed space as the final frontier in 1966. But in a time that resembles science fiction more than the previous centuries of industrial based, is space still the final frontier?

     The building blocks for the general public to reach space began back in October 1957 with the launch of the first artificial satellite to orbit Earth, Sputnik. Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite, went into orbit a few months later on Jan. 31, 1958. On May 5, 1961, Alan Shepard became the first American to fly into space. In April 1961, Russian Lt. Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth in Vostok 1. On Feb. 20, 1962, John Glenn became the first American to orbit Earth.

     Fast forward to 2020, and space exploration was still reserved for scientists and astronauts. Last year’s advances made space attainable for those with big names backed by a big bank account. While seeing celebrities on their way to touch the stars was exciting, that was just the beginning according to the Space Foundation. In fact, 2022 is poised to be the most aggressive year for space exploration – ever.

Fast Facts

Ninety countries are operating in space in January 2022.

Eight countries are consistently launching and can obtain orbital access.

Thirteen companies that regularly launched have recently reached orbital space or have acquired companies with orbital launch capability.

Six companies are very close to launch debuts (most planned for 2022).


     We traditionally think of space advances being created by the government or military. However, after policies and government investment changes, commercial companies were allowed to contribute and provide services to the federal government, military and general public.

     “So many entrepreneurs and innovators are coming to the table,” said Rich Cooper, Vice President of Strategic Communications & Outreach at the Space Foundation. “Everybody always thinks of the space race as to how it started. This isn’t so much a space race as it is space races. There are so many adventures that are happening in civil, commercial and research areas in space. There is no one size fits all opportunity or access point for space anymore.”

     When the Space Foundation started in the mid-1980s, we were in the era of the shuttle and commercial space was something that people thought about but never fully bought into. Now, the shuttle is parked as a museum exhibit and commercial space is here.

     “We now have more means to access orbital space and put astronauts and others into space than at any other time,” Cooper said. “This is an evolution that is the result of commercial, civil government as well as military investment. They’re all building off of the lessons learned and experiences of those before them. What we’re seeing with the commercial arena is they’re offering opportunities to do things a whole lot different, a whole lot better and doing things in far more novel fashion than we ever might have imagined possible.”

2021 At A Glance

— Private citizens made it to space via commercial efforts by Virgin Galactic (one flight, suborbital), Blue Origin (two flights, suborbital) and SpaceX (one flight with Inspiration4 crew, orbital).

— Had the highest number of orbital space launches in history, narrowly surpassing 1967.

— The global space economy grew to $447 billion in 2020 and even grew in employment opportunities in 2021.

— James Webb Space Telescope launched on Christmas Day and will open a whole new chapter in astronomy and our greater understanding of our universe.


     In 2021, five systems allowed people to access space — Russian Soyuz vehicles, Chinese Shenzhou-13, SpaceX Dragon, Blue Origin’s New Shepard and Virgin Galactic’s system. 

This year, they will all fly again with two additional systems being put forward — NASA’s Orion and Boeing’s Starliner. According to Cooper, after Boeing and NASA get their test runs in, Sierra Space, a subsidiary company for Sierra Nevada Corporation, is looking to human-rate their spaceplane to carry crew and supplies to the International Space Station. 

     “This past year, we saw three different launch vehicles carry the public into space in three very different fashions,” Cooper said. “The exciting part about this is the diversity of players, opportunity and means create competition and choices. Whenever you have those in a marketplace, that’s good for consumers. The consumer is not just a taxpayer, it’s a corporate leader, an investor, an inventor and a critical infrastructure. All those people are now playing in this arena. There is no more dynamic marketplace than space.”

     The space marketplace is comprised of more countries, companies and citizens than ever before. This leads to more reasonable prices for reaching space orbit.

     “The revolution that has occurred over the past 10 to 15 years in bringing the cost down to access space cannot be ignored,” he said. “The cost has always been quite significant. When you develop new means and additional launch systems that can launch in a cheaper fashion, that brings the cost down. If you bring the cost down, that creates more access and opportunity for others.” 

     Depending on which company you ride with, a space ticket ranges from $450,000 to tens of millions of dollars.

     “When commercial air travel first started in this country, it had what was then significant price tags, but when more players got into that market, the price came down,” Cooper said. “That allowed more people to travel, expansion of that industry to contribute to even more jobs and expansion in the economy. I have no doubt, I think the same thing will happen here.”

     Today, space is a $447 billion global marketplace and is projected to become a $1 trillion economy within the next decade.

     “As more countries and companies put forward different launch vehicles and launch systems, you’re going to have new markets unfold,” he said. “That’s good for everybody because it creates jobs, enhances the demand for those products and services which allows for economic expansion and provides value-added to the lives of not just employees and customers, but to the larger community that these things are impacting. That can’t be understated.”

     This success shines a light on another obstacle: how to find a talented workforce to satisfy the demand. There have been a several companies that have several thousand job openings that they have not been able to fill due to a lack of quality applicants. 

     “These jobs come in all shapes and sizes with lots of different demands upon them, but making sure that each of those workers is adept and skilled enough to do those things is critically important,” Cooper said, noting the Space Foundation’s Center for Innovation is working to help solve this dilemma. “We are working with education leaders from top to bottom and various stakeholders to make sure we are doing the things we can to build that pipeline of talent that will deliver the workforce that we need to not only generate the $1 trillion economy but fulfill all the other bolder missions that we imagine.”

2022 Forecast

— NASA is scheduled to launch its Space Launch System rocket and Orion crew capsule. SpaceX is preparing to launch its newest spacecraft, Starliner, for an orbital flight in early 2022. Boeing is scheduled to launch its Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station in
May 2022. 

— At least 10 companies are slated to test new orbital rocket systems or spacecraft, which will almost double the number of companies capable of reaching orbit.

— Once the James Webb Space Telescope reaches L2 (Lagrange point 2) and is unfolded and operational, we will get our first images and information about the furthest reaches and earliest moments of our universe.


According to Cooper, space is a critical infrastructure that every infrastructure is connected to — transportation, health, food and agriculture, supply chain and public safety. 

     “All of those critical infrastructures are dependent on GPS. If you don’t have space, you don’t have GPS. It’s all about dependence,” he said. “It’s having the connectivity; it’s having the information that it reveals. It’s being able to maintain all of the secure communications that we need for not just military and national security efforts, but financial transactions. The transmission of information for public health needs or whatever else it might be.”

     This dependency will only increase over time with new technologies being developed.

     “If you take space away, yes, people could ride a horse or bike or drive a car that doesn’t have GPS systems in it. But let’s face facts, the utilization of those technological enhancements has made for safer, more efficient and more effective transportation across the board,” he said. “That’s the force multiplier and value-added that space can bring not just to the transportation and supply chain, but to every other infrastructure.”

     Thus, if those lines of connectivity are severed, it breaks the communication and the access is removed.  

     “You are certainly creating more risk and more threat to the success of jobs, operations and missions,” he said. “You’re compromising the security and the future benefits by removing that force multiplier. Space is a force multiplier that allows every infrastructure to do what it needs to do as it matures to the next level.

     “A day without space would have grave repercussions to both the national security and economic security of the countries on this planet,” Cooper said.


     The Space Foundation is a nonprofit advocacy organization founded in 1983, that offers a gateway to education, information and collaboration for space exploration and space-inspired industries.

     1. A trusted source for information. Before Covid, the foundation would bring about 15,000 people together to share what’s going on in civil, commercial and military affairs, what’s happening with space, let alone the new technologies, investments and activities that were going on. But the symposium is just part of that.

     “Since we started our Center for Innovation and Education, we have been working to create what we call a lifelong learning culture that helps create that next generation of workforce that can satisfy the demands and jobs that need to be fulfilled,” Cooper said. “Space Force in many ways begins in a classroom, and if you don’t have the talent and aren’t giving teachers and educators the resources they need to develop that talent, they’re not going to be able to execute on the missions that you need them to do to provide for economic opportunity or national security which are critical to the success of this country and every other country on the planet.”

     2. A resource for education. Space Foundation’s ability to convene civil, commercial and military research parties together in a collaborative environment, allows them to help those organizations build relationships to do the next great things that they’re doing. 

     “We take the opportunity at Space Foundation to also pause and identify technologies that were developed for space that provide benefit to life here on Earth and help the public better understand and be more space aware of how space serves their day-to-day needs,” Cooper said. “Our Space Certification program and our Space Technology Hall of Fame identify the technologies that were developed for space and have transformed life on this planet, whether that be high-performance computing, whether that again be public health, satellite radio or broadband capacities. These are all things that came out of the space community that contributes to life here on Earth.”

     3. We are a collaborator in bringing different parties to the table. The foundation “executes a broad program of global engagement across all enterprises supporting global corporate members and ensuring a significant global presence.”

     “We at Space Foundation act as a global steward to make sure people understand what space is, the value it brings to them and the benefits it brings to life here on Earth,” Cooper said. “It is a privilege and an honor to be a steward of the global space community and help tell its story.

     “Space exploration is just one facet of today’s space environment. We certainly love the exploration and herald it, but it is one part of a multichapter story that is all being written at the same time,” he said. “There’s not just one story with space. There’s a multitude of them, and there are going to be even more multitudes. We’re in the opening chapters of this, and if you can’t get excited about that, I don’t know what else I can do for you.”

Brig Gen Robert L. Cardenas, USAF (Ret), Daedalian Life Member #3230

Brig Gen Robert L. Cardenas, USAF (Ret)

March 10, 1920 – March 10, 2022

Brig General Robert Cardenas passed peacefully in his sleep on 10 March 2022, his 102nd birthday.
General Cardenas had a very distinguished Air Force career. Some highlights included:

  • Establishing the Army Air Corps Glider School.
  • Flying the B-24 with the 44th Bomb Group during WWII. On his 20th mission his aircraft was shot down but he escaped capture and eventually returned to his unit in England.
  • Piloting a captured Me 262 and Ar 234 when assigned to the Flight Test Division at Wright Field.
    Performing as the Officer in Charge and the pilot of the B-29 that launched Chuck Yeager in the Bell X-1 supersonic experimental aircraft.
  • Being the Chief Air Force Test Pilot of the YB-49 flying wing program.
  • Flying the F-105 on combat missions during the Vietnam conflict.
  • After his military service he worked with the VA to help establish the National Cemetery at Miramar.

General Cardenas received many military awards and decorations including the AF Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and DFC.
He was also inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame and the International Air & Space Hall of Fame.
At Flight 13’s Daedalians meeting on 10 March, his 102nd birthday, we made a toast to his very distinguished life.
We all salute General Cardenas for his outstanding military career, and we are proud that he was a long-time member of Daedalians San Diego Flight 13.


To read his full Air Force biography, click here.

A Lens Into the Past, Preserved Today: A Look at the Award-Winning 307th Bombardment Group

By: Miss Taylor E. Watson
Order of Daedalians Operations Officer

     While much of the work done by our organization supports our members and helps inspire tomorrow’s military aviators, we also maintain an extensive collection of archival materials. We are custodians of our organizational history, records on our Founder Members and their contributions, and generous additions made from our Named Members over the years. Earlier this year, our staff rediscovered a pristine photo collection reflecting the history of the 307th Bombardment Group in Korea. 

     The 307th deployed to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, in August 1950 flying Boeing B-29s as part of the Korean Campaign while attached to Far East Air Forces (FEAF) Bomber Command. By the end of hostilities, the wing had flown 6,052 sorties against enemy targets, had 55,473 combat hours and dropped 51,757 tons of bombs. The set chronicling this period contains 76 photographs in total, including crew portraits, snapshots of on-station life, a series of strike photos and several images of unit members receiving decorations. 

     Originally activated in 1942 by the Army Air Corps Combat Command after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the 307th Bombardment Group (Heavy) began flying B-17s in the war against Japan. In the years that followed, the 307th would participate in World War II, the Korean Conflict and the Vietnam Conflict, becoming one of the most renowned bombing units in American military history. The unit is known as the “Long Rangers” in honor of their first combat mission on Dec. 27, 1942, when 27 B-24s staged an attack that destroyed 90% of Japanese holdings on a Wake Island stronghold. At the time, it was considered the longest mass raid that had ever been conducted.

     They served with distinction in the Pacific throughout the remainder of the war and shot down an average of 25% of Japanese fighter interceptors. They conducted most of their missions without their own fighter escorts and played a key role in debilitating Japanese units. The 307th received two distinguished unit citations for their actions. 

     The first was “for action in the bombing of the Island of Truk, the most heavily defended and strongly fortified Japanese base in the Pacific. During withdrawal, gunners of the Group destroyed 31 of the 75 attacking aircraft, probably destroyed 12 more and damaged 10 in an air battle that lasted 43 minutes. This daring raid, made on 29 March 1944, neutralized the Islands airfields, making possible long-range flights without fighter protection.” 

     The second was “awarded for the successful strike at the Balikpapan Oil Refineries in Borneo on Oct. 3, 1944. The 307th had to fly their B-24 Liberator bombers 17 1/2 hours for a round trip of 2,610 miles, the longest mass daylight mission ever flown by this type aircraft.” This action helped assure allied victory in the South Pacific.

     The unit also carried out bombing strikes against Japanese shipping centers in the Philippines as part of the Philippine campaign, inhibiting the Japanese from gaining a further strong hold in the area. The group was awarded the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation for these activities. Following V-J Day in 1945, the 307th aircraft ferried former American prisoners of war from Okinawa to Manila. 

     The unit was deactivated in November 1945 shortly after the war. However, with the Air Force’s policy of preserving the names of the top fighting units of World War II, the 307th Bomb Group was reactivated as the 307th Bombardment Wing on Aug. 4, 1946, and began flying B-29s at MacDill Air Force Base, FL, under the auspices of Strategic Air Command. Until the Korean campaign, the unit played a leading role in developing new anti-submarine tactics and procedures and was frequently called upon to demonstrate the effectiveness of aerial bombing.

     In August 1950, the 307th deployed to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan and had a successful campaign staging attacks against advancing communist forces in South Korea until the enemy was contained in 1953. They received another Distinguished Unit Citation for “their extraordinary heroism in action against an enemy of the United Nations during the period of 11 to 27 July, 1953. At this time, they flew 93 sorties and dropped 860 tons of bombs on targets at the Simanju Air Field, where despite severe icing, intense enemy anti-craft fire and coordinated search light fighter opposition they rendered the airfield unserviceable.” The 307th was also awarded the Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation for its air strikes against enemy forces in Korea and several campaign streamers.

     Following the conflict, the 307th was assigned to Lincoln Air Force Base, NE, in 1954. A year later, the wing was equipped with B-47 Stratojets to replace the B-29s, becoming the first jet-propelled aircraft it had been assigned in its history. The unit was then designated as the 307th Bombardment Wing (Medium) and trained for strategic bombardment missions and air refueling operations until deactivated in 1965. Reactivated during the Vietnam conflict, the unit flew KC-135s and conducted air refueling operations in support of tactical units from 1970-1975 while operating at U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield, Thailand.

     On Jan. 8, 2011, the 307th Bomb Wing was reactivated at Barksdale Air Force Base as a new Air Force Reserve Wing and reports to the Tenth Air Force, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, TX, and is a component of Air Force Global Strike Command. When reactivated, dozens of alumni of the 307th Bomb Wing from the Korean, Vietnam and Cold War eras attended and were able to tour the displays and artifacts featured in the current headquarters, providing testimony to the unit’s heritage and great accomplishments.

     The 307th’s current mission focuses on B-52 aircrew training and nuclear deterrence and global strike. The current flying components of the wing consist of the 93rd and 343rd Bomb Squadrons, which fly the B-52H Stratofortress aircraft, and the 489th Bomb Group, which flies the B-1 Lancer from Dyess Air Force Base, TX. Since its reactivation, it has been awarded the General Curtis LeMay Trophy for best bomber operations wing in the Air Force in 2011. The 307th has deployed multiple times in intervening years and remains the only bomber wing in the Air Force Reserve. 

     This storied bomber wing’s effort to preserve their heritage across generations reflects our own Daedalian mission. Just as the current Long Rangers of the 307th carry forward the tradition of excellence set by their predecessors in executing the mission today, the Daedalian fellowship charges its members with carrying the legacy of aviators past into the present. We work to inspire the future by reflecting our Founders’ values of patriotism, personal integrity and character in word and action and sharing and learning from each other’s stories. It is our honor to be stewards of a valuable piece of this history.

Daedalians In Space

Celebrating the pioneers of the final frontier

By: Ms. Taylor E. Watson, Order of Daedalians Operations Officer

For over 60 years, the Daedalians have accepted and welcomed leaders in the development of American space power into our organization. Since the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was created in July 1958, we have celebrated the achievements of those risking their lives for the benefit of all mankind through exploration on the final frontier.


Project Mercury was the first U.S. program to put humans in space. On April 9, 1959, NASA introduced its first astronaut class. The “Original Seven” Mercury astronauts — Wally Schirra, Deke Slayton, John Glenn, Scott Carpenter, Alan Shepard, Gus Grissom and Gordon Cooper — were invited to become life members in the Order of Daedalians and were inducted on June 9, 1961. They all received the Pioneer Astronaut Award from the Order. During the program’s 25 flights from 1961-1963, astronaut and retired Marine Col. John Glenn, Daedalian Life Member #4134, made history by becoming the first U.S. astronaut to orbit Earth aboard the Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962. He wrote to the Daedalians following his mission saying, “Many things were learned from this and from the earlier flights of Alan Shepard and Gus Grissom. Each flight is a stepping-stone in our ever-expanding manned flight research programs.” Glenn was honored by the Daedalians for his return to space on the shuttle Discovery on Oct. 29, 1998. At 77 years old, he became the oldest person to reach Earth orbit where he was the subject of several studies on aging.


In 1966, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas Stafford, Daedalian Life Member #559, piloted Gemini VI and helped pioneer the techniques and theory for practical space rendezvous. He received the Harmon International Aviation Trophy twice for these accomplishments. He began his career as a fighter-interceptor pilot, entered Experimental Test Pilot School in 1958 and served as an astronaut from 1962 until 1975, logging 507 hours 43 minutes of space flight. In the 1970s, U.S.-Soviet political tensions that had accelerated the space race began to thaw. On July 17, 1975, the NASA Apollo capsule docked with the Soviet Soyuz capsule and Apollo Commander Stafford shook hands with Soyuz Commander Alexei A. Leonov, signifying the nations’ partnership on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. In his later career, he directed the start of the F-117 Stealth program and initial specs for the B-2. He also was part of the F-16 Weapon System Program Office team that received the Daedalian Weapon System Award in 1978. Stafford has also received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and Presidential Medal of Freedom.


In July of 1982, Mr. Christopher Kraft, former director of Johnson Space Center, was invited to join the Daedalians as an Honorary Member, becoming effective in February 1983. Kraft was involved in the manned space program beginning in 1945 with his contribution in the field of aeronautical flight research at NASA’s predecessor, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). As part of the Space Task Group, he served as the flight director for all the Mercury missions and many of the Gemini missions. He became the director of NASA in 1972, a post he held until August 1982 after successfully seeing the space shuttle program through its orbital flight test phase. NASA’s space shuttle fleet consisting of Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour flew 135 missions and carried 355 different people to space over a 30-year period. The space shuttle was humanity’s first reusable spacecraft. The shuttle program conducted cutting-edge research we continue to reap the benefits of and built the largest structure in space, the International Space Station. Tragically, NASA lost two crews of seven in the 1986 Challenger accident and the 2003 Columbia accident.


Retired Air Force Col. Eileen Collins, Daedalian Life Member #8835, made history as the first female pilot aboard STS-63 for which she received the Harmon Trophy, and she was the first female commander of a Space Shuttle aboard STS-93. Of her four missions, STS-114 was the “return to flight” following the loss of Columbia, testing safety improvements and resupplying the International Space Station. During STS-114, Collins became the first astronaut to fly the Space Shuttle through a complete 360-degree pitch maneuver to confirm there was no debris-related damage to the shuttle’s underbelly. Collins, one of America’s first female military pilots, has been a Daedalian since 1983. An active supporter of the organization throughout her entire career and currently, she is also a recipient of the Daedalian Distinguished Achievement Award for her achievements as an astronaut, including logging more than 872 hours in space.

In Glenn’s letter of invitation to join the Order of Daedalians from retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Harold L. Clark, Daedalian Founder Member #99, Clark wrote, “The name of the original aeronaut, Daedalus, was adopted by our Order because of his spirit and courage in entering regions never before attempted by Man in an entirely new method of propulsion… Today that spirit has reached its peak in the training of our 7 Astronauts to go far beyond what Daedalus or the World War I pilots could have done, and is well expressed as the ‘spirit of patriotism and self-sacrifice that places Nation above self.’” In an era when our military capabilities, as well as many of the conveniences of everyday life, are both dependent on and increasingly at risk, Daedalians continue our mission to “Advocate for air and space power and honor those who flew and fly.” We celebrate the legacy of our Founders and those Daedalians who have placed service before self in daring to “slip the surly bonds of Earth…and touch the face of God.”