Byron F. Knight Chief Scientist, Advanced Systems and Technology Directorate National Reconnaissance Office
AIAA SciTech Forum 2023
Dr. Byron F. Knight is a United States Department of Defense Intelligence Senior Leader, currently serving as the Chief Scientist in the Advanced Systems and Technology (AS&T) Directorate at the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) in Chantilly, Virginia. He is the principal advisor to the Director for emerging science, technology, engineering and mathematics capabilities related to space reconnaissance. Previously to joining AS&T, Byron held numerous positions in the NRO Systems Engineering Directorate (SED). As the Deputy Director for Future Conflict Capabilities he was the principle technical advisor to the Director of Systems Engineering focused on improved reconnaissance systems and operations to address emerging tactical and operational military and intelligence needs. Prior to that, he served as the Mission Assurance Executive advising the NRO Director on, and providing oversight for, spacecraft reliability and maintainability and industrial base issues. From 2008 to 2010, Dr. Knight served at the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) as the Chief Advisor to the NGA Director, overseeing customer needs and required future capabilities while on Joint Duty Assignment.
Dr. Knight, a native of Tallahassee, Florida, began his career in 1982 at the Harris Corporation in M e l b o u r n e , Florida, developing ground-based and space borne antenna systems for the Department of Defense. He worked for two years with Lockheed Corporation as a National Aeronautics Space Agency space shuttle thermal protection systems engineer, as the aft section team lead for the Shuttle Atlantis. From 1986 to 1988, he was the division mechanical engineer for Unisys Corporation, developing military and intelligence signals intelligence hardware systems. He returned to Harris Corporation to continue developing defense space and terrestrial intelligence technology.
Dr. Knight moved to the NRO, Chantilly, Virginia, on a technology fellowship in 1998, working in the Operational Support Office (OSO). He worked with a team of civilian, military, and contractors to develop a new communications dissemination program for low bandwidth military users. This activity led to research and studies in Measurement and Signature Intelligence (MASINT), and was identified as a leader in the military application of these typically complex technical products and services. Between 2000 and 2003, Dr. Knight continued his support in OSO as an employee of SRA International. In 2003, he began to directly support MASINT development programs, assuming duties as Chief Scientist in October 2005. He completed his two-year joint duty assignment at NGA in May 2010, returning to the NRO as the Deputy, Mission Success Executive.