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Last Updated: Monday, 14 March, 2005, 09:35 GMT
Griffin nominated for Nasa chief
Mike Griffin, Nasa
Dr Griffin is a supporter of President Bush's space vision
The White House is nominating Dr Mike Griffin as the next US space agency (Nasa) Administrator.

Dr Griffin, a rocket scientist and entrepreneur, is the current director of space at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).

He will succeed Sean O'Keefe who has taken up a post in academia.

Dr Griffin is a supporter of President Bush's space exploration vision, which would see human astronauts return to the Moon and possibly even go to Mars.

President Bush is expected to comment on the nomination later this week.

'Right credentials'

Early reaction from politicians in Washington DC has been favourable.

"[Dr Griffin] has the right combination of experience in industry, academia and government service," said Senator Barbara Mikulski, an influential member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

"He has a proven record of leadership and a passion for science and exploration. I welcome his nomination."

House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert added: "We are extremely pleased that the President has nominated Mike Griffin to be Nasa Administrator.

"Dr Griffin has long been a resource to the Science Committee, both as a public witness and in providing private counsel. He has broad expertise, knows Nasa inside and out, and is an imaginative and creative thinker and leader.

"He is also known for his candour and directness. We look very forward to working with Dr Griffin at this critical time for Nasa."

Key posts

If confirmed by the Senate, Dr Griffin will be the 11th chief in the space agency's history.

He has been employed directly by Nasa before. He held several key posts from 1991 to 1994, including associate administrator for exploration.

It was in this role that he oversaw the last initiative that aimed to send humans to Mars, proposed by President Bush¿s father during his occupation of the White House and later cancelled by the Clinton administration.

Dr Griffin also worked in the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization as the deputy for technology in 1986. This was the group charged by former President Ronald Regan to find a "Star Wars"-like space-based missile defence system.

Important tasks awaiting the new administrator at Nasa are the return to flight of the space shuttle (and the eventual replacement of the launch vehicle) and the controversial de-orbiting of the Hubble Space Telescope, one of the agency's flagship missions.

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