Stephen L. Kitay, deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy, will leave his job at the end of the month, he said in an Aug. 8 letter posted to social media.
“While the department’s critical mission will never be complete, I have a very exciting opportunity in the private sector that my family and I decided to pursue,” he wrote.
Kitay’s resignation as one of the Pentagon’s top space policy officials takes effect Aug. 21. The Defense Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on who will fill the position once he leaves. He has held the job since June 2017.
His tenure includes standing up the Space Force to manage military space assets, U.S. Space Command to run daily military space operations like satellite communications and missile warning, and crafting an interdepartmental approach to space as a potential area of conflict that brings together the Pentagon, Commerce Department, National Reconnaissance Office, and others in new ways.
The former Air Force officer previously worked as a staffer on the House Armed Services Committee and as a civilian employee in the intelligence community.
“I am truly grateful for the vision and direction the president has provided to the U.S. space program,” he wrote. “This vision recognizes the fundamental importance of space not only for furthering human and scientific exploration, but also for ensuring our national and economic security.”
A handful of other defense officials overseeing space policy and research have left the Pentagon for the private sector over the past few years.
For example, Fred G. Kennedy, the Space Development Agency’s inaugural director, resigned in June 2019 and is now vice president of future missions at Astra, a small-satellite launch provider. Space Force Planning Director Maj. Gen. Clint E. Crosier recently retired to run Amazon Web Services’ new space business branch. And Michael D. Griffin, the Pentagon’s research and engineering boss who oversaw SDA and other space-focused ventures, left DOD in July for an industry job.