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Michael D. Griffin

Year Inducted: 2022

Michael Griffin’s impressive and distinguished career has bolstered the nation’s space capabilities, strengthening the state of Alabama’s position as an engineering leader in the aerospace
industry and educating the next generation of the civil and military space systems workforce.

Among his many roles, he served as administrator of NASA and as Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering and Chief Technology Officer at DoD, with the role of ensuring technological superiority across the department. His leadership led to expanded success at Redstone Arsenal as well as the aerospace and defense industry in Huntsville. Between those two appointments he was the King-McDonald Eminent Scholar and professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and was the CEO of the Huntsville-based Schafer Corporation, a professional services provider in the national security sector. Following his tenure in the Department of Defense, Griffin co-founded and is co-president of LogiQ, Inc., providing high-end management, scientific, and technical consulting services to a variety of corporate and government clients.

Earlier in his career he worked on novel space missions and technologies in support of strategic defense research and development. That work led him into several positions in the academy, private industry, and government, including chief engineer and associate administrator for exploration at NASA and deputy for technology within the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization. He later held numerous executive positions in industry, including executive vice president and general manager of Orbital ATK’s Space Systems Group, CEO of Magellan Systems, and president and chief operating officer of In-Q-Tel. Immediately prior to his 2005 appointment to the helm at NASA, he was serving as Space Department Head at the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory.

As the 11th NASA administrator, Griffin oversaw the development of the Constellation program, which evolved to become the Space Launch System, managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville. He also initiated the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program to facilitate commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station. During his tenure, Griffin oversaw the return to flight of the Space Shuttle, setting the pace for the ISS to be completed just after leaving NASA in 2009.

Griffin earned seven academic degrees, including a bachelor’s degree in physics from Johns Hopkins University in 1971 and a doctorate in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland in 1977. He has held adjunct faculty appointments at three universities and is the lead author on more than two dozen technical papers and the textbook, “Space Vehicle Design.” He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and the International Academy of Astronautics, an Honorary Fellow and former president of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, a Fellow of the American Astronautical Society, and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. He is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including the NASA
Exceptional Achievement Medal, the Missile Defense Agency’s Ronald Reagan Award, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal (twice). In recognition of his contributions to the Pluto New Horizons mission, Asteroid Michaelgriffin159999 is named in his honor.