Les Nelson

EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION

During my senior year in college I met Nancy Johnson, we were married in June 1969. She enjoyed many years as an elementary school teacher working Kindergarten through fifth grade. We have one son Ryan who is 36, and a grandson Aidan who is 10. Upon retiring we stayed in Colorado Springs, CO. close to our son and grandson. We enjoy traveling having been to all 50 states in addition to multiple trips to Europe, the Caribbean, and the South Pacific.

MILITARY CAREER

I served in the USAF from 1968 to 1994, retiring as a full colonel. I was assigned to all Air Force organizational levels from missile and space squadrons to Headquarters Air Force, gaining experience in every major Air Force space program. My most favorite accomplishments were: commander of a joint USAF and Australian missile warning crew stationed in Woomera, Australia, working the Space Shuttle program with NASA, squadron commander of Cape Cod Air Force Station, space planner at the Pentagon and co-author of the “Department of Defense 1987 Space Policy.”

After retiring from the USAF I transitioned into the aerospace industry working for the Lockheed Martin Corporation’s Space Systems Company from 1995 to 2011. During this period I worked on the USAF newest generation missile warning satellite program called Space Based Infrared Systems (SBIRS) beginning with contract proposals, system development, and operational deployment. In 2006 I became the first Director of Operations for SBIRS responsible for the operations and maintenance of all ground stations around the world and the on-orbit missile warning satellites.

IMPACT ON SPACE COMMAND

Hand-picked early in his career to operate a top secret new space program developed and deployed by the Air Force called Defense Meteorological Satellite Program (DMSP), Les helped to shape operational readiness, training, and satellite command procedures for this critical asset built to control the impacts of weather on military and spy operations.