WASHINGTON – The Senate on May 8 confirmed former congresswoman Heather Wilson to be the next Air Force Secretary.

As secretary, Wilson will be in charge of guiding service policy on space and will serve as the ultimate acquisition authority for the Air Force’s purchase of satellites, rockets and other space-related products and services.  

Her predecessor, Deborah Lee James, served as the principal defense department space adviser, or PDSA. However, it’s uncertain whether Wilson will also take up that position. The Trump administration has indicated it may reshuffle the way space policy is handled, giving more leverage to a newly re-created National Space Council. If the PDSA position is abolished, it is likely that Wilson would have a seat on the council.

The 76 to 22 vote split largely along party lines, with Republicans and some moderate Democrats voting to confirm.

However, many Democrats said they are still concerned over questions about Wilson’s work with the Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories in New Mexico from 2009 to 2011, and allegations that she improperly accepted money to lobby on behalf of the Energy Department labs.

Wilson will be the first Air Force Academy graduate to hold the service secretary position.

Phillip Swarts is the military space reporter for SpaceNews. He previously covered space and advanced technology for Air Force Times, the Justice Department for The Washington Times, and investigative journalism for the Washington Guardian;...