Colonel Steven J. Butow is the Space Portfolio Lead for the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) located in Silicon Valley. He joined DIUx in August 2015 after serving as Vice Chief of the Joint Staff, California Military Department. Colonel Butow is the former Commander of the 129th Rescue Wing (Air Combat Command), at Moffett Federal Airfield, California, where his responsibilities included organizing, training, equipping, and maintaining 970 combat ready forces and $1 Billion dollars of MC-130P aircraft, HH-60G helicopters and special mission equipment supporting the U.S. Air Force’s personnel recovery mission. The 129th Rescue Wing is credited with over 1,000 lives saved including more than 400 performed in combat. Combat aircrew and Pararescuemen assigned to the 129th Rescue Wing have earned 11 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 2 Purple Hearts, and numerous Bronze Stars with Valor during his tenure. Colonel Butow has additionally served as the U.S. Central Command Deputy Director of the Joint Search and Rescue Center in 2005, and U.S. Air Forces Central Chief of Personnel Recovery in 2007 supporting Operations IRAQI and ENDURING FREEDOM.
A California native, Colonel Butow enlisted in the Air National Guard in 1986. He received his commission in 1989 as a distinguished graduate of the Academy of Military Science, and completed undergraduate pilot training at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, in 1990. Colonel Butow graduated from San Jose State University with a B.A. in Physics & Astronomy, and earned a M.S. in Management with specialization in Air and Space Strategic Studies from the University of Maryland. He has served as a military mentor and sponsor of Steve Blank’s Hacking for Defense course taught at Stanford University.
As a researcher with the SETI Institute in Mountain View, he worked on instrument concepts for Mars surface soil analysis at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. Colonel Butow later served as co-principal investigator for a series of airborne science projects for which he was recognized for outstanding achievement and contributions to the Space Science Division in 1999, and received an Ames Honor Award as a member of an Astrobiology Mission Project Team in 2000. Colonel Butow has more than 3,500 flying hours in T-37, T-38, C-130, HC-130 and MC130P aircraft.