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Commerce Committee Chairman Stevens' Statement on the Nomination and Confirmation of Dr. Michael Griffin to be NASA Administrator

Press Release From: Sen. Ted Stevens
Posted: Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Commerce Committee Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) offered the following statement today on the nomination and confirmation of Dr. Michael Griffin to be Adminstrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA):

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration represents our nation's greatest hopes and aspirations.  President Bush nominated Dr. Michael D. Griffin to be the next NASA Administrator on March 14, 2005.  Dr. Griffin takes over an agency that is embarking on the President's Vision for Space Exploration, which will take America back to the moon and eventually to Mars.  The Vision is NASA's biggest mission since the Apollo program began more than 40 years ago.  Dr. Griffin will guide NASA on the first steps of this important journey that will define America's presence in space for the next several decades.  At the same time we still mourn the loss of the Columbia's crew as NASA readies the Space Shuttle for its return to flight next month.  Dr. Griffin's first task will be to ensure that the shuttle program gets back on its feet safely and effectively.  NASA needs its next Administrator immediately, and I thank the Senate for agreeing to the request from Senator Inouye and myself to discharge and approve this nomination.

Dr. Griffin's extensive background in space and science will serve him and NASA well.  He is currently head of the Space Department at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.  Previously, Dr. Griffin was President and Chief Operating Officer of In-Q-Tel, an independent, nonprofit venture group chartered to identify and invest in cutting-edge commercial technologies for intelligence community applications.  He has also served as CEO of the Magellan Systems Division of Orbital Sciences Corporation, as General Manager of Orbital's Space Systems Group, and as the company's Executive Vice President/Chief Technical Officer.  Prior to joining Orbital, he was Senior Vice President for Program Development at Space Industries International, and General Manager of the Space Industries Division in Houston.

Dr. Griffin has served in a number of governmental positions.  With NASA, he served as both the Chief Engineer and the Associate Administrator for Exploration, and within the Department of Defense (DOD), he served as the Deputy for Technology at the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization (SDIO).  Before joining SDIO, Dr. Griffin played a leading role in numerous space missions while employed at the Johns Hopkins APL, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Computer Sciences Corporation.  He holds seven degrees in the fields of Physics, Electrical Engineering, Aerospace Engineering, Civil Engineering, and Business Administration, and has been an Adjunct Professor at the George Washington University, the Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland.  He is the lead author on more than two dozen technical papers and the textbook Space Vehicle Design.  He is a recipient of the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal and the DOD Distinguished Public Service Medal. He is also a Registered Professional Engineer in Maryland and California, and a Certified Flight Instructor with instrument and multi-engine ratings.

Dr. Griffin succeeds a close friend and former leader of my staff, Sean O'Keefe.  Sean did an admirable job getting the agency's finances under control and, more importantly, holding NASA together after the Columbia tragedy.  We were lucky NASA had such a leader during that trying time.  At the Commerce Committee's hearing on Dr. Griffin's nomination I spoke of my recent travels with Sean, during which I was approached repeatedly by people who raved about Dr. Griffin.  They all said he was the man for the job if he could be convinced to accept it.  I am pleased the President appointed Dr. Griffin and I look forward to working closely with him and his team of talented professionals.

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