Saturday, April 16, 2005
The U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed on Wednsday the nomination of Dr. Michael Griffin to head the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), making him the 11th administrator of the US-based space agency. He takes office at a time when NASA is busy with preparations for the return to flight of the space shuttle Discovery, expected sometime during the launch window of May 15 through June 3, 2005.
The presidential nominee Griffin was the head of the Applied Physics Laboratory’s Space Department at Johns Hopkins University, a position he held almost a year. Prior to that, he was a chief engineer at NASA before coming over from service as Deputy for Technology at the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization. He has made a career of the aerospace field.
Griffin was critical at times of U.S. priorities in space exploration by questioning its continued commitment to the International Space Station. Griffin, in testimony before the House Science Committee in 2004, outlined more ambitious plans for human exploration and settlement of the solar system in which he believes the United States should play a key role.
In a statement during his April 12, 2005, confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce Committee, Griffin said, “In the twenty-first century and beyond, for America to continue to be preeminent among nations, it is necessary for us also to be the preeminent spacefaring nation,” with a spirit of discovery similar to the exploration of the New World by Columbus with the support of the Spanish crown.
Griffin, 55, notably holds seven academic degrees from various institutions, including a bachelor’s degree in physics; master’s degrees in aerospace science, electrical engineering, applied physics, civil engineering and business administration; and a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland.