Thompson, Elias take top honors from NDIA Space Division


ARLINGTON, VA – The vice commander of Air Force Space Command and the man behind the Pegasus air-launched rocket are the recipients of the 2018 Honorable Peter B. Teets Award, the National Defense Industrial Association announced Thursday, June 28.

Lt. Gen. David Thompson of Air Force Space Command in Washington, and Antonio Elias, formerly of Orbital ATK Inc., are recognized this year by NDIA’s Space Division.

In April, Thompson took the seat as vice commander of the Air Force Space Command, which oversees mission-ready space and cyberspace forces and supports North American Aerospace Defense Command, U.S. Strategic Command and the other combatant commands. Before this, he was vice commander and special assistant to the commander of space command’s operations at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. Other previous assignments include U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. Commissioned in 1985 at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Thompson is a career space officer with assignments in operations, acquisition, research and development and academia.

Elias recently retired as executive vice president and chief technical officer of Orbital ATK. He was a co-founder of Orbital Sciences Corp., which he joined from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was Orbital’s first vice president for engineering and eventually became executive vice president and chief technical officer following the merger of Orbital Sciences with ATK.

In 1987, Elias conceived and led the design of Pegasus, the world’s first privately funded space launcher and the first space launch vehicle to be dropped from an airplane. Its maiden launch from a B-52 aircraft occurred April 5, 1990. In the decades since its maiden flight, Pegasus has conducted 43 missions, launching 94 satellites.

NDIA’s Space Division annually bestows the Teets award, its highest honor, to recognize public- and private-sector leadership or achievement that contributes significantly to the development, introduction, operational contribution or support of space systems. Past winners include Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves and Richard Ambrose (2017), Gen. John Hyten and Kay Sears (2014), Betty Sapp and Jeff Harris (2013) and Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski and Wanda Austin (2012).

Thompson and Elias will receive their awards during a dinner in their honor, Tuesday, July 31, at the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles in Chantilly, VA. To register for the Teets awards dinner, go to Media are welcome to cover the awards dinner.

The dinner is in conjunction with the National Security Space Policy and Architecture Symposium, Wed., Aug. 1, at Perspecta in Chantilly. The symposium is a classified event and closed to press.

For more information, contact Evamarie Socha or (703) 247-2579.

About NDIA

The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is America's leading defense industry association promoting national security. NDIA provides a legal and ethical forum for the exchange of information between industry and government on national security issues. NDIA and its members foster the development of the most innovative and superior equipment, training, and support for warfighters and first responders through its divisions, local chapters, affiliated associations, and events. For more information, visit