Charles F. Bolden, Jr.: First African American NASA Administrator

Photo of Charles F. Bolden Jr., NASA Administrator
(Photo Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls) 
In May 2009, Charles F. Bolden, Jr. (Major General, USMC Ret.) was appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama as the Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the head post at the U.S. space exploration agency. 
Born August 19, 1946 in Columbia, South Carolina to Charles Bolden, Sr., an educator and head H.S. football coach, and Ethel Bolden, an educator and librarian whose works included establishing libraries in Columbia's black elementary schools. 

In 1964, Bolden graduated from C.A. Johnson High School. In 1968, he earned a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Academy, joining the U.S. Marine Corps the same year. In 1977, he earned a M.S. degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California and two years later graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. 

The first black administrator of NASA, Bolden was inspired by the late Ronald E. McNair, the African American astronaut that died in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in 1986. "It was Ron who inspired me to submit my application to the space program," said Bolden to The State, a South Carolina homepage. 

Photo of Major General Charles F. Bolden, Jr.
In 1980, Bolden was selected to join NASA as an astronaut. He traveled to orbit four times. He flew in four space shuttle missions, including piloting the Space Shuttle Columbia and deployment of the Hubble Space Telescope. Bolden served 34 years in the military before retiring in 2003 as the Commanding General of the Third Marine Aircraft Wing.

Bolden is married to the former Alexis "Jackie" Walker. They have two children, Kelly Michelle, a plastic surgeon, and Anthony Che, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps.  

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