Pilot Takes Left Seat at NASA

 - October 31, 2006, 11:16 AM

Michael Griffin reported to work late last month as the 11th administrator of NASA. By his own admission, Griffin will be “spending a good deal of my time reviewing our progress toward returning the space shuttle safely to flight,” so it remains to be seen if his experience as a flight instructor and instrument-rated multi-engine pilot will result in a renewed emphasis on aeronautics research.

Funding for NASA aeronautical research has been cut significantly in the proposed budget for FY2006.

He did say that one of his objectives is to “develop a balanced overall program of science, exploration and aeronautics at NASA…My conclusion is that we as a nation can clearly afford well executed, vigorous programs in both robotic and human space exploration, as well as in aeronautics.”

Griffin, 55, has a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, a bachelor’s degree in physics and master’s degrees in aerospace science, civil and electrical engineering, applied physics and business administration. When he was nominated as NASA administrator in March, Griffin was the chief of the space department at Johns Hopkins University’s applied physics laboratory in Baltimore.