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Administrator Michael Griffin Visits Glenn Research Center
NASA Administrator Mike Griffin believes that the Agency he leads must always remain on the cutting-edge.

NASA research centers exist to create tomorrow's technology and design the vehicles that will take us to new destinations on our continual exploration mission. On Monday, May 16, Griffin caught a glimpse of this philosophy in action while visiting the Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

The Administrator's tour of the Center's state-of-art facilities began at the Aeroacoustic Propulsion Laboratory, where experts are working to reduce the noise on commercial aircraft, and ended at the Power Systems Facility, where engineers design and build flight hardware for the International Space Station.

Photo of Griffin touring wind tunnel In between, he met employees at one of Glenn's supersonic wind tunnels and then discussed future missions with experts at the Electric Propulsion Laboratory. These engineers and technicians develop advanced power systems and solar and nuclear electric propulsion systems needed to make future NASA missions possible.

Image left: Griffin views a model in the shop area of the Abe Silverstein Supersonic Wind Tunnel.
Credit: NASA

After the tour, Griffin met with reporters for a brief press conference. Over the next 20 years, Griffin told the press, "I would like nothing more than to see [the Centers doing] the kinds of things I saw today at Glenn."

In addition to the press conference, the day's events included lunch with employees at the Center cafeteria. There, Griffin looked at displays of Glenn projects that have been recognized for outstanding research, engineering and craftsmanship.

Griffin views model of a pollution Gear fatigue testing for the Shuttle's Return to Flight and a pollution-free aircraft engine concept were just two of the many Glenn projects on display.

Image right: Dawn C. Emerson, Chief of Glenn’s Avionics, Power and Communications Branch shows Griffin a model of a pollution-free aircraft engine concept. Credit: NASA

"The 15 projects we exhibited were nominated for the Abe Silverstein Medal for Outstanding Research, the Excellence in Engineering Award and the Craftsmanship Award," said Human Resource Specialist Xynique R. Sims. "These are the most prestigious honors Glenn presents in each category."

Griffin also held a town hall meeting with the NASA Glenn staff. During the one-hour open forum, he restated his commitment to executing the Vision for Space Exploration and explained how Glenn can best contribute to that goal.

Photo of town hall meeting The Center's expertise, he said, would be useful in designing efficient power systems for the Crew Exploration Vehicle, in-space propulsion and nuclear propulsion systems.

Image left: Griffin fields a question from an employee during the town hall meeting. Credit: NASA

"Nuclear energy is a core requirement in exploration," Griffin added. "I believe nuclear thermal propulsion is the most intelligent way to go to Mars. And development of these systems has been a historical core competency at Glenn."

The Ohio Center began developing nuclear systems in the 1960s, and today it is the Agency lead for nuclear propulsion, including nuclear electric and nuclear thermal propulsion.

This was Griffin's first official tour of NASA Glenn since he was confirmed by the United States Senate on April 13. Glenn was the second of several NASA Centers on Griffin's tour schedule. Over the next month, he will travel around the country to NASA's eight remaining Centers.

Jan Wittry (SGTI), NASA Glenn Research Center