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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University April 18, 2005 | Vol. 34 No. 30
APL's Michael Griffin Confirmed As Head of NASA


Lab's Space Department chief gets unanimous Senate approval

By Helen Worth
Applied Physics Laboratory

On April 13, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Bush's nomination of Mike Griffin as the 11th head of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Griffin, who was serving as head of the Applied Physics Laboratory's Space Department at the time, immediately stepped into his new position.

Griffin first joined APL in 1979 but left after eight years for a job directing launch vehicle development. That was followed by a foray into the secret world of the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, a stint as a NASA chief engineer and associate administrator for exploration, then management positions at an array of space research companies, including In-Q-Tel Inc., Orbital Sciences Corp. and Space Systems International.

In early 2004 Griffin closed the loop and returned to APL, this time not as a fledgling engineer but as a seasoned leader in the space research community. But just as Griffin started to put his imprint on APL's space programs he was tapped by the president to return to NASA, this time as its administrator.

In a letter to Griffin, which was also distributed to APL staff, Laboratory Director Richard Roca said, "It is with regret that I accept your resignation from the Laboratory but also with a full understanding that you have made the right and necessary choice." Griffin leaves, Roca said, "with the solid support of an organization that is honored to have crossed paths with you on many levels of your illustrious career."

At an informal celebration before he left, Griffin told Space Department staff and colleagues, "I'm very excited about the next opportunity and I'm looking forward to the challenge." But he was quick to add, "It isn't easy to leave APL behind."

Griffin's nomination drew nationwide approval from icons of the space research community and political figures alike, and was approved unanimously by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.


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