By Jueseppi B.
Ninth in th “One A Day” Black History Month series is……Mr. Charles F. Bolden Jr.
Charles Frank “Charlie” Bolden, Jr. (born August 19, 1946 in Columbia, South Carolina, United States) 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. On May 23, 2009, President Barack Obama announced the nomination of Bolden as NASA Administrator and Lori Garver as Deputy NASA Administrator. Bolden was confirmed by the Senate on July 15, 2009. He is the first African American to head the agency on a permanent basis.
Bolden graduated from C. A. Johnson High School in Columbia, South Carolina in 1964, where his father was the head football coach. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical science from the United States Naval Academy in 1968, and a Master of Science in systems management from the University of Southern California in 1977. He is a member of Omega Psi Phi fraternity.
Bolden accepted a commission as 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. 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.
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. In June 1979, he was 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 has logged more than 6,000 hours flying time.
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 active duty in the Marine Corps 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 (FWD) 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, serving from August 9, 2000 until August 2002. He retired from the military in August 2004.
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. A veteran of four space flights, he has logged over 680 hours in space. Bolden served as pilot on STS-61C (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.
On STS-61-C, Bolden piloted Space Shuttle Columbia. During the six-day flight, crew members deployed the SATCOM KU satellite and conducted experiments in astrophysics and materials processing. STS-61-C launched from Kennedy Space Center on January 12, 1986. The mission was accomplished in 96 orbits of Earth, ending with a successful night landing at Edwards Air Force Baseon 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 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 a vast array of detailed measurements of atmospheric chemical and physical properties, which contribute significantly to improving our understanding of our climate and atmosphere. In addition, this was the first time an artificial beam of electrons was used to stimulate a man-made auroral discharge. Following 143 orbits of Earth, Atlantis landed at Kennedy Space Center on April 2, 1992.
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 Krikalyov as a mission specialist crew member. The flight launched on February 3, 1994, from Kennedy Space Center, and carried the Space Habitation Module-2 (SPACEHAB), and the Wake Shield Facility. Additionally, the crew conducted a series of joint U.S./Russian science activities. The mission achieved 130 orbits of the Earth, ending with a landing on February 11, 1994, at the Kennedy Space Center.
In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Bolden to be administrator of NASA.
In a NASA video, published April 28, 2010 titled “NASA’s New Era of Innovation and Discovery”, Bolden said: “We’re gonna turn science fiction into science fact.”
In a June 2010 interview with Arab news outlet Al Jazeera, Bolden said that among his goals for outreach were to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, to expand NASA’s international relationships, and to reach out to and engage the Muslim world, making better known its historic contribution to science.
Bolden said his agency’s long-term ambition is landing astronauts on Mars. However, he has cited spending-cuts as a concern for major NASA projects.
Next In The “One A Day” Black History Month Series….Ms. Rosalind Brewer.
Filed under: Black History, Celebs & Fame, History, News, Race | Tagged: Barack Obama, Lori Garver, Marine, NASA, Royal Thai Air Base Nam Phong, United States, United States Marines, United States Naval Academy | 7 Comments »