APL's Michael Griffin Confirmed As Head of
Lab's Space Department chief gets unanimous Senate
By Helen Worth
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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