Senate Approves Griffin Nomination, New NASA Chief to Be Sworn In Promptly

Update: Story firstposted at 9:43 a.m.

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Senate confirmed Wednesday night thenomination of Mike Griffin to become NASA's new administrator.

Griffin is expected to be sworn in this week and ready tobegin his new job by Monday, April 18.

Senate Commerce CommitteeChairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) had promised during Griffin's confirmation hearing Tuesday topush for swift approval of the nominee. Griffin'sconfirmation was held up briefly by Sen. George Allen (R-Va.)who wanted more detailed responses to questions he had asked Griffin about NASA's declining aeronauticsspending during the hearing.

Allen spokesman David Snepp said the senator had asked Stevens to hold off onsending Griffin'snomination to the floor for a vote until he could get the "depth of answers hewas looking for". Griffin responded to Allen's seven written questions by 5:30PM Tuesday, Snepp said. By that time it was decided to wait until Wednesday toact on the nomination. On Wednesday evening, the full Senate unanimouslyapproved Griffin'snomination.

During the hearings, Griffin said that his twotop priorities would be safe return to flight of the space shuttle fleet andeliminating the lengthy gap between retiring the shuttle fleet in 2010 andfielding a replacement vehicle, the Crew Exploration Vehicle now scheduled forits initial piloted launch in 2014.

Griffin also said he would reconsider the decision by hispredecessor, former NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, to cancel a plannedshuttle mission to service the Hubble Space Telescope. "We should reassess theearlier decision in light of what we learn after we return to flight," Griffin said.

NASA sources say Griffin has not beensworn in, but will address the NASA workforce live on NASA TV starting at 12:30p.m. Thursday.

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