WASHINGTON – The Senate voted overwhelmingly Feb. 12 to confirm Ashton Carter as the next U.S. Secretary of Defense.
Carter, the Pentagon’s former No. 2, was nominated by President Obama in December to replace Chuck Hagel, who will continue to lead the Defense Department until Carter is sworn in. Only five Republican senators voted against Carter’s confirmation.
The Senate Armed Services Committee held just one hearing on Carter’s nomination. The day-long affair was relatively tension free, and largely devoid of military space-related questions. However, Carter addressed 17 space-related questions from the committee in writing ahead of the Feb. 4 hearing.
Many of the questions focused on weapons in space, China’s capabilities and how to enhance competition to the national security launch market, which currently is dominated by United Launch Alliance. Carter said and that under his leadership the Pentagon would certify new companies to launch national security satellites “as quickly as possible.”
Asked whether China’s space activities should “inform U.S. space policy and programs,” Carter said Beijing “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.”