Updated: March 11, 2014 at 10:25 pm
Air Force leaders didn't have to look far to find the new commander of Air Force Space Command. He was right down the hall from the old boss.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced Tuesday that Lt. Gen. John Hyten will pin on a fourth star and move from vice-commander of the Peterson Air Force Base command to the top spot. He's expected to replace his boss, Gen. William Shelton this spring.
With a budget topping $12 billion, Space Command controls the military's constellation of satellites and Air Force efforts in computer warfare.
During a 33-year Air Force career, Hyten has spent more than a decade in Colorado Springs, including a tour as commander of the 50th Space Wing at Schriever Air Force Base.
A graduate of Harvard University, Hyten came into the Air Force as a software expert. He later built a career in satellite operations and served as the Air Force's top space program acquisition officer before returning to Space Command in 2012.
He's been among the Pentagon's top thinkers on warfare in space, penning a paper entitled "A Sea of Peace or a Theater of War: Dealing with the Inevitable Conflict in Space."
Hyten was set to leave his post at Space Command last year after Pentagon leaders nominated Lt. Gen. Susan Helms to take the vice-commander's job.
Helms, though, bowed out after her Senate confirmation for the Space Command post stalled amid a controversy over her handling of a sexual assault case at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The Obama administration withdrew her nomination in November and Helms retired.