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.
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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.