LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE -- The Space and Missile Systems Center’s Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate welcomed a new director at a change of leadership ceremony held at Los Angeles Air force Base, Dec. 15.

Col. Robert Bongiovi assumed leadership of the directorate from Dr. Claire Leon at a ceremony officiated by Brig. Gen. Phillip Garrant, and attended by family, friends, community leaders and SMC personnel.

“It has been an honor for me to be here at SMC and to be in charge of Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate,” said Dr. Leon. “I am confident that the strong team here at SMC, the launch enterprise will continue to execute NSS launches effectively and chart the course for launch vehicles for the next two decades.”

“My primary focus will be on mission success but not just on our current launches but for our future,” said Col. Bongiovi. “Our job is to make sure our payloads get into orbit. We must do this in an environment where unblinking scrutiny continues. But I’m not worried because we are experts and we are executing a great strategy. We got this.”

Commissioned in 1992 through the ROTC program after graduating from the University of Dayton, Col. Bongiovi has been the senior materiel leader of LE’s Acquisition Division since July 2014. He was responsible for the acquisition of future launch systems and the technical maturation program to invest in future rocket engine technologies. His career includes two previous assignments at SMC including serving as the executive officer for the center’s commander. Prior to returning to SMC in 2014, the colonel was the chief of the Support and Force Application Division in the Office of Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Headquarters U.S. Air Force.

His military awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal and Air Force Achievement Medal.

SMC’s newest directorate, the Launch Systems Enterprise Directorate was stood up on Oct. 14, 2015 under Dr. Leon’s leadership. The directorate brought together SMC’s old Launch Systems Directorate and the Rocket Systems Launch Program, which formerly fell under the Advance Systems and Development Directorate at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. This realignment advanced SMC's capability development and feed into the next generation of space systems.

“A big thank you to the men and women of the Launch Enterprise – your pride and dedication are obvious every day and are evidenced by your results. I look forward to working with you to build on our successes and shape our future,” said Col. Bongiovi.

The directorate manages the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle for the Air Force. As the Air Force's spacelift modernization program, EELV was designed to increase reliability and reduce launch costs by at least 25 percent over heritage Atlas, Delta and Titan space launch systems. The EELV program continues today with launch capability provided by ULA's Delta IV and Atlas V launch vehicles, SpaceX' Falcon 9 Upgrade and their associated launch sites. 2012 marked the tenth anniversary of the first EELV launch.

Outbrain