The Stewart Committee was an ad hoc Advisory Group on Special Capabilities set up in 1955 at the request of Donald Quarles, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Development. Chaired by Homer J. Stewart, its purpose was to examine several proposals for launch vehicles designed to place the first American satellite in orbit. Three options were considered, based on Atlas, Redstone, and Viking first stage launchers. Stewart himself favored the Redstone proposal put forward by von Braun's team; however, he was overridden by his committee which preferred the Viking plan. In the event, this proved to be a mistake and led to the Soviet Union taking an early lead in the Space Race.