Lisa Costa retires from position as top Space Force technology officer

Costa served as the Space Force's first-chief technology and innovation officer since 2021.
SCHRIEVER SPACE FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Dr. Lisa Costa, the U.S. Space Force’s first permanent Chief Technology and Innovation Officer, signed the Joint Task Force-Space Defense’s board during her visit to the organization at Schriever Space Force Base, Colorado, Apr. 1, 2022. During the visit, Costa and members of her team learned about the JTF-SD’s protect and defend mission and its critical command and control networks. (U.S. Space Force photo by Tiana Williams)

The Space Force’s first-ever chief technology and innovation officer, Lisa Costa, has retired from her position in the federal government.

“From helping define the role of Special Operations in the War on Terror to shaping homeland defense and bringing irregular warfare to space, my career has been marked by pivotal roles and groundbreaking initiatives. Leading innovation and operationalizing AI, cyber operations, and space has been truly rewarding,” Costa said Tuesday in a post on LinkedIn announcing her departure from government service.

Costa took helm of the Space Force’s Chief Technology and Innovation Office in 2021, where she was charged with creating strategies and policies to advance research, development, test and evaluation across the service. As CTIO, she worked to deploy relevant tech to ensure the Space Force — which some have called the Defense Department’s first truly digital service — had an edge over U.S. adversaries. 

Among the capabilities she helped develop for the Space Force is the Unified Data Library (UDL) , a cloud-based data repository that ingests and consolidates data from government and commercial sensors to support the service’s space domain awareness missions. Costa worked to modernize the system to leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning tools in order to streamline access to the critical data.


She also pushed the Space Force’s modernization of the “Spaceverse” — a digital environment that connects disparate guardians for training — and the Integrated Operations Network, the IT infrastructure that will serve as the foundation for the service’s digital footprint. Last year, she announced that the Space Force was working on a digital modeling strategy to develop standards for its modeling and simulation activities.

A career technologist, Costa advocated for emerging science and tech across the government. Prior to her role as CTIO, she served as the chief information officer and director of communications systems for U.S. Special Operations Command, and also previously held positions at Engility Corp., PlanetRisk and MITRE.

“But working alongside elite military units and collaborating with various departments, agencies, universities, and industry partners has been my most profound honor,” Costa wrote in her post. “It underscores the importance of our collective efforts toward national security and prosperity. I am deeply grateful for these experiences, colleagues, and mentors who have shaped my journey.”

Costa did not provide additional details in her LinkedIn post as to where she will be working in the future, only that she eagerly looks forward “to the next chapter where I can bring my expertise to new challenges and opportunities.”

Col. Nathan Iven will be the acting CTIO until the position is filled, the Department of the Air Force told DefenseScoop. He was previously serving as the deputy.


Updated on June 18. 2024, at 3:55 PM: This story has been updated to note that Col. Nathan Iven will be the acting CTIO until the position is filled.

Mikayla Easley

Written by Mikayla Easley

Mikayla Easley reports on the Pentagon’s acquisition and use of emerging technologies. Prior to joining DefenseScoop, she covered national security and the defense industry for National Defense Magazine. She received a BA in Russian language and literature from the University of Michigan and a MA in journalism from the University of Missouri. You can follow her on Twitter @MikaylaEasley

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