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Prepared Statement of Sen. Paul Sarbanes at the Confirmation Hearing for NASA Administrator Designee Michael Griffin

Status Report From: Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Posted: Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Statement of Senator Paul S. Sarbanes (D-MD)
Before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
On the nomination of Dr. Michael D. Griffin
As NASA Administrator
April 12, 2005

Chairman Stevens, Senator Inouye, and members of the Commerce Committee, I am pleased to appear before you today with my colleague Senator Mikulski to introduce a highly respected leader in Maryland's scientific community - Dr. Michael Griffin, President Bush's nominee to serve as the next Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

I am proud to be able to say that Dr. Griffin is a son of Maryland, born in Aberdeen - home of Cal Ripken, Jr. - and educated in some of our finest academic institutions. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Physics from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where he attended as the recipient of a prestigious Maryland State Senatorial Scholarship. He then went on to earn five Master's degrees - in Aerospace Science from Catholic University, in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, in Applied Physics from Johns Hopkins University, in Civil Engineering from George Washington University, and in Business Administration from Loyola College of Maryland. Dr. Griffin ultimately earned his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland. As you can see, Dr. Griffin is - quite literally - a rocket scientist.

Dr. Griffin is currently the Space Department Head of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. Johns Hopkins APL is nonprofit division of the Johns Hopkins University, and, under the strong leadership of Dr. Richard Rocca, serves as one of the premier research and development institutions dedicated to solving a host of technical challenges faced by the nation. For over 45 years, APL's Space Division has played a central role in supporting our nation's civilian and military space programs. One of the most exciting recent collaborations between NASA and APL was the August 2, 2004, launch of the Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission. APL designed and built the spacecraft, which was completed under Dr. Griffin's leadership, and the module is scheduled to arrive at Mercury in 2011.

A March 16, 2005, editorial in the New York Times strongly supporting Dr. Griffin's nomination was simply and appropriately entitled: "A Talented Leader." Indeed, Dr. Griffin has held numerous leadership posts during his long career in both the public and private sectors. These positions have demanded an extraordinarily high level of both administrative and scientific excellence, and Dr. Griffin has met these challenges with characteristic resolve and determination. As Head of APL's Space Division, Dr. Griffin oversees a staff of over 600 employees, with an annual budget of over $200 million. Dr. Griffin previously served in the upper echelons of NASA leadership as both the Chief Engineer and the Associate Administrator for Exploration, and served in the private sector as the Chief Operating Officer of In-Q-Tel, Chief Executive Officer of Magellan Systems, and as Orbital Science Corporation's Executive Vice President and Chief Technical Officer.

A self-described "space junkie," Dr. Griffin has continued to pursue his intellectual and research interests outside of his administrative duties. Authoring over two-dozen technical papers, Dr. Griffin has also written a textbook entitled Space Vehicle Design. He has also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, Johns Hopkins University, and George Washington University. As the Committee knows well, the United States faces serious challenges in maintaining its preeminence in the fields of aeronautics and aerospace. In this regard, I applaud Dr. Griffin's commitment to passing along his expertise and passion to the next generation of space researchers and enthusiasts.

Dr. Griffin has received numerous honors and awards over the course of his distinguished career, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal - the highest honor a non-governmental employee can receive from the Department. Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, one of the most important roles I have as a United States Senator is the responsibility to provide "advice and consent" with respect to Presidential nominees. To that end, I am confident that Dr. Griffin, if confirmed as NASA Administrator, will fulfill his serious responsibilities and face the considerable challenges of that position with skill, conviction, and determination. I urge the Committee to carefully and expeditiously consider this nomination, and to favorably report his nomination.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to appear before you today to introduce this talented and distinguished nominee.

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