- The Washington Times - Friday, March 11, 2005

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — President Bush yesterday picked physicist Michael D. Griffin to lead NASA as it prepares to resume space shuttle flights and tries to meet the White House goal of sending astronauts back to the moon in the decade ahead.

If confirmed by the Senate, Mr. Griffin would become the space agency’s 11th administrator.

Members of Congress praised the president’s choice, as did John Logsdon, director of George Washington University’s space policy institute.

“I’ve known Mike for a long time and have a great deal of respect for him as a kind of innovative thinker, real enthusiast full of energy,” Mr. Logsdon said.

“His biggest challenge is convincing Congress that the president’s vision should be a national vision, that it’s the right way for the program to proceed,” he added.

Sean O’Keefe left NASA last month after three years in the top job to become chancellor of Louisiana State University. Since then, his deputy, former space shuttle commander Frederick Gregory, has been serving as acting administrator.

For the past year, Mr. Griffin has headed the space department at Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel. It is the lab’s second-largest department and specializes in projects for both NASA and the military.

Mr. Griffin, 55, has a doctorate in aerospace engineering and five master’s degrees, in aerospace science, electrical engineering, applied physics, civil engineering and business administration. His bachelor’s degree is in physics.

“President Bush’s choice for the new administrator of NASA is the right one,” said House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Texas Republican. “Dr. Griffin will propel NASA into the next phase of America’s mission in space.”

The chairman of the House Science Committee, Sherwood Boehlert, New York Republican, said Mr. Griffin knows NASA “inside and out” and added that he is looking forward to working with him “at this critical time for NASA.”

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, also welcomed Mr. Griffin, noting, “He has the right combination of experience in industry, academia and government service.”

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