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Science & Space

Ex-NASA scientist to get administrator job

By Brian Berger
SPACE.comexternal link

Griffin is expected to take over NASA.

( -- The White House confirmed Friday that President Bush has nominated Mike Griffin, head of the space department at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) to be the next NASA Administrator.

Griffin, a rocket scientist with an MBA, had previously worked at NASA as the agency's associate administrator for exploration in the late 1980s and early 1990s under the first President Bush. Word of Griffin's nomination had first been reported earlier in the day by's sister publication Space News.

At present, veteran shuttle astronaut Frederick Gregory is sitting in as NASA's interim administrator. Former chief administrator Sean O'Keefe resigned in December, citing personal and financial reasons for his decision. O'Keefe took a job as chancellor of Louisiana State University's Baton Rouge campus. He served three years as NASA's chief.

Before returning to APL in April 2004 to head the space work, Griffin worked as the chief operating officer of In-Q-Tel, a private non-profit enterprise funded by the Central Intelligence Agency to invest in companies developing leading edge technologies.

According to an April 20, 2004 press release from APL, Griffin had worked at APL in the 1980s, when he helped design the successful Delta 180 series of missile-defense technology satellites for the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDI).

After leaving APL in 1986, he served as the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization's deputy for technology.

After departure from the SDI work, Griffin served as both the chief engineer and associate administrator for exploration at NASA Headquarters, in Washington, D.C.

In addition to a doctorate in aerospace engineering, Griffin holds master's degrees in aerospace science, electrical engineering, applied physics, civil engineering and business administration, and a bachelor's degree in physics.

House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) praised Griffin's nomination in a written statement.

"We are extremely pleased that the President has nominated Mike Griffin to be NASA Administrator" Boehlert said in the statement. "Dr. Griffin has long been a resource to the Science Committee, both as a public witness and in providing private counsel. He has broad expertise, knows NASA inside and out, and is an imaginative and creative thinker and leader. He is also known for his candor and directness. We look very forward to working with Dr. Griffin at this critical time for NASA."

Griffin recently took part in an independent study for The Planetary Society on strategy for the proposed U.S. space exploration policy as outlined by President George W. Bush.

That study in which Griffin was a co-team leader was issued in July 2004 and titled: "Extending Human Presence into the Solar System." That assessment looked at a multi-stage approach that included initial need to utilize existing space shuttle components to create a heavy-lift launch capability.

Griffin has a doctorate degree in aerospace engineering and five master's degrees: aerospace science, electrical engineering, applied physics, civil engineering and business administration.

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