17 Space Questions Posed to Ash Carter by Senate Panel

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WASHINGTON – As part of his Senate confirmation process, Ashton Carter — President Obama’s pick to be the next U.S. secretary of defense — submitted written answers to 328 questions, including 17 about space.

The questions — and Carter’s 91-pages of answers — were posted on the Senate Armed Services Committee’s website as Carter’s confirmation hearing got underway Feb. 4.

Excerpted below are all the space-related questions and answers:

Q. China’s test of an anti-satellite weapon in 2007 was a turning point for the United States in its policies and procedure to ensure access to space. As a nation heavily dependent on space assets for both military and economic advantage, protection of space assets became a U.S. national priority. 

Do you agree that space situational awareness and protection of space assets should be a national security priority? 

Yes. Space situational awareness is important to understand and characterize the space environment, detect interference with space systems, and enable timely attribution and response. Equally important is the protection of our space capabilities.

Q. In your view, should China’s continued development of space systems inform U.S. space policy and programs? 

Yes. China is rapidly developing space capabilities of its own that both mirror U.S. capabilities and could threaten our access and use of space for national security purposes. If confirmed, I will review the Department’s efforts to address China’s developments in space, and will coordinate closely with other U.S. departments and agencies.

Q. If confirmed, would you propose any changes to National Security space policy and programs? 

The National Security Space Strategy clearly highlights the growing challenges in the space domain. If confirmed, I will insist on policies, programs, and other measures that ensure U.S. warfighters can continue to depend on having the advantages that space confers.

Q. What role do you believe offensive space control should play in National Security space policy and programs? 

Offensive space control, in addition to other elements of national power, should be carefully considered in protecting our forces from threats posed by an adversary’s space-enabled capabilities.

Q. If confirmed, would you commit to reviewing the overall management and coordination of the national security space enterprise?

Yes. I understand that the Department’s recent strategic portfolio review of space highlighted challenges with our overall space posture. If confirmed, I look forward to working with Congress to make adjustments to address those challenges.

Q. What is your view on weapons in space? 

The United States depends upon space capabilities to enable operations in all domains. Other nations are working to challenge those capabilities as well as to field their own. If confirmed, I intend to work with Congress to determine the best way to defend U.S. space systems and to deny those advantages to those who would use space to target U.S. warfighters.

The administration is proposing to free up 500 MHz of spectrum for broadband use, a candidate portion of which includes the band 1755-1850 MHz, which is used heavily by Department of Defense and other national security agencies.

Q. Do you support this initiative? 

Yes.

Q. Do you support section 1602 of P.L. 106-65, which requires the Secretaries of Commerce and Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to certify that any alternative band or bands to be substituted for spectrum currently used by the Department of Defense and other national security agencies provide “comparable technical characteristics to restore essential military capability that will be lost as a result of the band of frequencies to be so surrendered”? 

Yes. This provision is necessary to ensure that the Department maintains access to spectrum necessary to operate critical military capabilities. Preserving this provision is essential to the ability of DoD to continue to successfully contribute to the President’s broadband goals, especially given the increased focus on spectrum sharing.

Q. If confirmed, how do you intend to comply with section 1602 in light of the 500 Mhz initiative? 

I understand Secretary Hagel recently signed, along with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Commerce, certification for the 1755-1780 MHz frequency bands that were auctioned as part of the Advanced Wireless Service 3 (AWS-3). I will ensure that any future auctions involving spectrum used by the Department are certified in accordance with P.L. 106-65, Section 1062.

Q. Do you intend to insist that DOD be compensated fully for the cost of relocating, if required to do so? 

Yes, I intend to insist that DoD be compensated fully for the cost of relocating, if required to do so in accordance with Section 1062.

Q. How do you propose the Department make more efficient use of communications spectrum through leasing of commercial satellites? 

If confirmed, I will work with the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics and the DoD Chief Information Officer to continue to leverage the efforts which the DoD and commercial satellite communications providers are already pursuing to more effectively and efficiently utilize the communications spectrum. Based on that review, I will determine if additional opportunities should be pursued.

Q. Do you support more competition in the launch of Department of Defense payloads? 

I have been, and continue to be, whenever possible, a staunch advocate for competition across all of the Department’s acquisition programs. Regarding space launch for National security Space (NSS) missions, I fully support competition and, if confirmed, will review provisions for competition of future national security space launch missions.

Q. If confirmed, what steps will you take to encourage new entrants to the medium and heavy lift launch of Department of Defense payloads while balancing affordability, mission assurance, and maintaining the viability of the existing launch provider? 

Mission assurance remains the cornerstone of the Department’s approach to space launch for NSS missions. If confirmed, I will encourage competition from new entrants by ensuring the Department has a clear understanding of the certification process and by making every effort to certify all capable new entrants as quickly as possible.

Q. Do you support commercial hosting of Department of Defense payloads and if so how? 

The Department should explore and consider the full range of options. Commercial hosting may help diversify the space architecture, improve mission assurance and potentially reduce costs of U.S. government space-based capabilities. If confirmed, I will explore the full range of options, including commercial hosting, for providing future space-based capabilities when appropriate.

Q. What is your long term vision and support for the Space Based Infrared Sensing system? 

I understand the Department is executing a comprehensive Analysis of Alternatives for the SBIRS follow-on capabilities. If confirmed, I will assess the alternatives and recommendations with the objective of affordably providing and assuring critical missile warning and battlespace awareness capabilities.

Q. What is your long term vision and support for the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system? 

I believe that AEHF is a critical component of the Department’s Nuclear Command, Control, and Communications (NC3) capability. If confirmed, I will continue to ensure the Department provides the needed NC3 capability for the President.

Q. Do you support splitting the systems sensors up to lower overall cost of the system? 

I support exploring the full range of approaches to reliably and affordably providing space-based capabilities.