WASHINGTON — The White House on Monday officially sent to the Senate the nomination of Barbara Barrett to be the next secretary of the U.S. Air Force.
Trump announced on Twitter May 21 that he intended to nominate Barrett but the vetting process and a review of her financial assets were not completed until August when Congress was in recess.
Barrett was spotted in the Pentagon over the past two weeks where she received unclassified briefings and was prepped for her confirmation hearing. Sources told SpaceNews that Barrett was briefed on space issues, including the potential reorganization of the Air Force if Congress authorizes the establishment of a space service under the Department of the Air Force.
The Senate Armed Services Committee scheduled a joint confirmation hearing on Thursday Sept. 12 for Barrett and for Ryan McCarthy, Army secretary nominee. McCarthy would fill the slot vacated by Mark Esper, who is now secretary of defense. If confirmed, Barrett would replace Heather Wilson, the 24th secretary of the Air Force who stepped down May 31 to become president of the University of Texas El Paso.
Barrett is a former U.S. ambassador and Arizona gubernatorial candidate. In 2008 and 2009, she was the nation’s ambassador to Finland under President George W. Bush. She also served as senior adviser to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, is a former chairman of the State Department’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Working Group, U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy and U.S. Secretary of Commerce’s Export Conference.
From 2013 until 2017, Barrett served as chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Aerospace Corporation, a federally funded research and development center that advises the Defense Department on national security and military space systems. Barrett also was chairman of the Aerospace board.
Barrett earned bachelor’s, master’s, and law degrees at Arizona State University, and received honorary doctorates from ASU, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the University of South Carolina, Pepperdine University and Finlandia University.
A space enthusiast and certified aircraft pilot, in 2009 Barrett trained at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, and Kazakhstan, culminating in certification for space travel.