For the jazz musician, see Buddy Bolden.

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Charles Frank Bolden, Jr. (born August 19, 1946)[1] is the current Administrator of NASA, a retired United States Marine Corps Major General, and former NASA astronaut.

A 1968 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, he became a Marine Aviator and test pilot. After his service as an astronaut, he became Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy.[citation needed]

On May 23, 2009, President Barack Obama announced the nomination of Bolden as NASA Administrator and Lori Garver as Deputy NASA Administrator.[2] Bolden was confirmed by the Senate on July 15, 2009.[3] He is the first African American to head the agency on a permanent basis.[2]

Bolden is also the virtual host of the Shuttle Launch Experience attraction at Kennedy Space Center[4] and serves on the board of directors for the Military Child Education Coalition.


Template:Unreferenced section Bolden graduated from C. A. Johnson High School in Columbia, South Carolina, in 1964. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Science from the United States Naval Academy in 1968, where he was a contemporary of future Marine officers Oliver North, Jim Webb and Michael Hagee and future Chief of Naval Operations Michael Mullen, and a Master of Science degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California in 1977. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

Military careerEdit

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Charles F. Bolden Jr., Astronaut, USMC, public speaking DM-SN-85-10497

Bolden speaking at a USMC recruiting event in 1982

Bolden was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps following graduation from the United States Naval Academy in 1968. He was president of his class. He underwent flight training at Pensacola, Florida, Meridian, Mississippi, and Kingsville, Texas, before being designated a Naval Aviator in May 1970.[citation needed]

He flew more than 100 sorties into North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia in the A-6A Intruder while assigned to VMA(AW)-533 at Royal Thai Air Base Nam Phong, Thailand, from June 1972 to June 1973.[citation needed]

Upon returning to the United States, Bolden began a two-year tour as a Marine Corps selection officer and recruiting officer in Los Angeles, California, followed by three years in various assignments at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California.[citation needed]

In June 1979, he graduated from the United States Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland and was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center's Systems Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates. While there, he served as an ordnance test pilot and flew numerous test projects in the A-6E, EA-6B, and A-7C/E airplanes. He logged more than 6,000 hours flying time.[citation needed]

Bolden was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1980. He was a member of the NASA Astronaut Corps until 1994 when he returned to assignments in the Marine Corps, first as the Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy, effective June 27, 1994. In July 1997, he was assigned as the Deputy Commanding General of I Marine Expeditionary Force. From February to June 1998, he served as Commanding General, I MEF (Forward) in support of Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait. In July 1998, he was promoted to his final rank of major general and assumed his duties as the Deputy Commander, United States Forces Japan. He then served as the Commanding General, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, from August 9, 2000 until August 2002. He retired from the military in August 2004.[citation needed]

NASA careerEdit

Selected by NASA in May 1980, Bolden became an astronaut in August 1981. His technical assignments included: Astronaut Office Safety Officer; Technical Assistant to the Director of Flight Crew Operations; Special Assistant to the Director of the Johnson Space Center; Astronaut Office Liaison to the Safety, Reliability and Quality Assurance Directorates of the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Kennedy Space Center; Chief of the Safety Division at JSC; Lead Astronaut for Vehicle Test and Checkout at the Kennedy Space Center; and Assistant Deputy Administrator, NASA Headquarters.[citation needed]

A veteran of four space flights, he has logged over 680 hours in space. Bolden served as pilot on STS-61-C (January 12–18, 1986) and STS-31 (April 24–29, 1990), and was the mission commander on STS-45 (March 24, 1992 – April 2, 1992), and STS-60 (February 3–11, 1994).

Bolden was the first person to ride the Launch Complex 39 slidewire baskets which enable rapid escape from a Space Shuttle on the launch pad. The need for a human test was determined following a launch abort on STS-41-D where controllers were afraid to order the crew to use the untested escape system.[5]

A few years before his appointment by President Barack Obama to be administrator of NASA, Bolden auditioned, along with professional actors, for the role of virtual host for NASA's "Shuttle Launch Experience" educational attraction at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Merritt Island, Florida.[citation needed]


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Bolden on the flight deck of Columbia during STS-61-C

On STS-61-C, Bolden piloted Space Shuttle Columbia. During the six-day flight, crew members deployed the SATCOM Ku band satellite, and conducted experiments in astrophysics and materials processing. The mission launched from Kennedy Space Center on January 12, 1986, orbited the Earth 96 times, and ended with a successful night landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California on January 18, 1986.

Bolden piloted Space Shuttle Discovery during STS-31. Launched on April 24, 1990 from Kennedy Space Center, the crew spent the five-day mission deploying the Hubble Space Telescope and conducting a variety of middeck experiments. They also used a variety of cameras, including both the IMAX in cabin and cargo bay cameras, for Earth observations from their record-setting altitude of over 400 miles. Following 75 orbits of Earth in 121 hours, Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base on April 29, 1990.

On STS-45, Bolden commanded a crew of seven aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis, launched on March 24, 1992 from Kennedy Space Center. STS-45 was the first Spacelab mission dedicated to NASA's "Mission to Planet Earth". During the nine-day mission, the crew operated the twelve experiments that constituted the ATLAS-1 (Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science) cargo. ATLAS-1 obtained detailed measurements of atmospheric chemical and physical properties. In addition, this was the first time an artificial beam of electrons was used to stimulate an auroral discharge. Following 143 orbits of Earth, Atlantis landed at Kennedy Space Center on April 2, 1992.


Bolden on the flight deck of Discovery during STS-60

Bolden commanded STS-60's crew of six aboard Discovery. This was the historic first joint-American/Russian Space Shuttle mission involving the participation of a Russian cosmonaut, Sergei Krikalev, as a Mission Specialist. The flight launched on February 3, 1994 from Kennedy Space Center, and carried the Space Habitation Module-2 (SPACEHAB), and the Wake Shield Facility. The crew conducted a series of joint American/Russian science activities. The mission achieved 130 orbits of the Earth, ending with a landing on February 11, 1994, at the Kennedy Space Center.[citation needed]

Administrator of NASAEdit

Charles Bolden speaks at STS-135 wheels stop event

Bolden speaks after landing of the last Space Shuttle mission, STS-135

In 2009, President Obama appointed Bolden to be administrator of NASA.[6]

In a NASA video published April 28, 2010, titled "NASA's New Era of Innovation and Discovery ... We're gonna turn science fiction into science fact", Bolden said.[7][8]

That same day, at a question and answer session with employees at the Johnson Space Center, Bolden compared the Constellation Program to a stillborn baby calf extracted from a camel's womb by U.S. Marines, saying "We do the same thing. We’ve got some stillborn calves around, and we have got to figure out ways to help each other bring them back to life." [9]

In a June 2010 interview with Al Jazeera, Bolden said that the top three goals he was tasked with by President Obama were to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, to expand NASA's international relationships, and, "perhaps foremost", "to reach out to the Muslim world... to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science... and math and engineering".[10][11]

Bolden said his agency's long-term ambition is landing astronauts on Mars.[12] He has cited spending cuts as a concern for major NASA projects.[13]

On August 28, 2012, he was the first human being to have his voice broadcast on the surface of Mars. Although the rover has no speakers, it received the transmission of his voice and then beamed it back to Earth.[14][15]

On October 28, 2015, Bolden presented the next steps for a human journey to Mars at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C.[16][17][18][19]

Personal lifeEdit

Bolden lives in Houston, Texas and is married to Alexis (née Walker); the couple have two children: Anthony Che and Kelly Michelle.[20]


Bolden's military awards include:

Defense Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon.svg 
Gold star
Legion of Merit ribbon.svg
Distinguished Flying Cross ribbon.svg
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Defense Meritorious Service Medal ribbon.svg
Air Medal ribbon.svgAward star (gold)Award numeral 8 NASA Outstanding Leadership Ribbon.png
Gold star
Gold star
USA - NASA Excep Rib.png
Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
U.S. Navy Unit Commendation ribbon.svg
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Bronze star
Vietnam Service Medal ribbon.svg
Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon.svg Vietnam gallantry cross unit award-3d.svg Vietnam Campaign Medal ribbon.png
Navy Astronaut Badge
Defense Distinguished Service Medal Defense Superior Service Medal Legion of Merit
w/ 1 award star
Distinguished Flying Cross Defense Meritorious Service Medal
w/ 1 oak leaf cluster
Air Medal
w/ 1 award star & Strike/Flight numeral 8
NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal
NASA Exceptional Service Medal
w/ 2 award stars
NASA Space Flight Medal
w/ 3 award stars
Navy Unit Commendation National Defense Service Medal
w/ 1 service star
Vietnam Service Medal
w/ 2 service stars
Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon Vietnam Gallantry Cross
Unit Citation with Palm
Vietnam Campaign Medal


Bolden has received:

See alsoEdit


  1. Template:Cite book
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Retired General Picked to Lead NASA", by Kenneth Chang, New York Times, May 24, 2009
  3. "Bolden and Garver Confirmed by U.S. Senate". NASA. July 15, 2009. 
  4. KSC' Shuttle Launch Experience, KennedySpace.; accessed February 1, 2016.
  5. "LBJ Space Center Roundup" (PDF). National Aeronautics and Space Administration. June 2007. Retrieved May 29, 2016. 
  6. Ex-astronaut Bolden to lead Nasa,, July 19, 2009.
  7. "NASA Video Gallery". Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  8. "A New Era of Innovation and Discovery - President Obama's Plan for NASA". YouTube. 2013-11-21. Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  9. "Bolden Urges Work Force To Back NASA's New Direction". 2010-05-03. Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  10. "Charles Bolden: The Nasa administrator and astronaut in conversation with Al Jazeera's Imran Garda". Al Jazeera English. June 30, 2010. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  11. "NASA Chief: Next Frontier Better Relations With Muslim World". Fox News. July 5, 2010. 
  12. Zobel, Jen (July 10, 2011). "NASA Administrator: President Obama Wants Americans On Mars". Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  13. O'Neill, Ian (July 13, 2011). "James Webb Space Telescope Closer to the Axe". Discovery News. Retrieved 2012-05-27. 
  14. Mullen, Jethro (2012-08-28). "Human voice makes giant leap in space thanks to Curiosity". Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  15. "NASA to beam new song from Mars". 2012-08-27. Retrieved 2016-02-01. 
  16. Staff (October 28, 2015). "Human Space Exploration: The Next Steps". Center for American Progress. Retrieved October 29, 2015. 
  17. Staff (October 28, 2015). "NASA: "Human Space Exploration - The Next Steps" - Video (55:48)". Center for American Progress. Retrieved October 29, 2015. 
  18. Staff (October 8, 2015). "REPORT: NASA’s Pioneering Next Steps in Space Exploration" (PDF). NASA. Retrieved October 29, 2015. 
  19. Gipson, Lillian (October 8, 2015). "Follow Mark Watney’s Epic Trek on Mars with New NASA Web Tool". NASA. Retrieved October 29, 2015. 
  20. "Astronaut Bio: Charles F. Bolden, Jr.". Retrieved 2014-07-13. 
  21. NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. to Receive the National Space Trophy, Rotary National Award for Space Achievement; retrieved February 1, 2016.
  22. Bar-Ilan Honorary Doctorate Convocation, 2016 in Bar-Ilan University facebook page, retrieved 13 June 2016.

External linksEdit

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Preceded by
Christopher Scolese
Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
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