Senate Approves NASA’s New Administrator

Michael Griffin
After being unanimously approved for the post by the US Senate Commerce Committee, Michael Griffin was appointed as the 11th NASA administrator on April 13th. He spoke to NASA employees the next day.
Courtesy NASA / Renee Bouchard.
On April 13th, just one month after President Bush nominated Michael Griffin as the 11th NASA administrator, the former head of the Space Department at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory was unanimously approved for the post by the US Senate Commerce Committee. He takes over for acting administrator Frederick Gregory.

Griffin's prepared remarks and answers to committee-member questions during his confirmation hearing paint a promising picture for the future of space science in America.

  • On former administrator Sean O'Keefe's decision not to service the Hubble Space Telescope:

    "I believe the choice comes down to reinstating a shuttle servicing mission or possibly a very simple robotic deorbiting mission. The decision not to execute the planned shuttle servicing mission [to Hubble] was made in the immediate aftermath of the loss of Columbia . . . In light of what we learn after we return to flight, we should revisit the earlier decision."

  • On the future of space science in light of the Moon-Mars Initiative:

    "As we undertake to redirect our human spaceflight program, it is crucial that we do it without damaging NASA's outstanding science programs, which have been among the crown jewels of the nation’s achievements . . . We as a nation can clearly afford well-executed, vigorous programs in both robotic and human space exploration as well as in aeronautics. We know this. We did it. NASA can do more than one thing at a time."

  • On the restructuring of NASA's management philosophy in wake of the Columbia disaster:

    "One of the things we want to make sure is that we hear from all parties — that there is no information that needs to reach the top that fails to reach the top."

  • On the immediate future of spaceflight after the shuttle is retired:

    "The program that NASA has outlined so far features a new crew exploration vehicle that nominally comes on line in 2014. I think that's too far out. President Bush said not later than 2014. He didn't say we couldn't be smart and do it early."

  • On the future of the International Space Station:

    "The president is pledged and I as his nominee am pledged... to bring the Space Station to a level of completion consistent with our obligations to our international partners."

    Griffin credentials include seven degrees — six of which are in engineering or physics. He once served as an associate administrator for exploration at NASA Headquarters, and was involved in the Strategic Defense Initiative in the 1980s.

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