Inducted in 2012
Four-time astronaut and current Administrator, NASA
Born in Columbia, SC, retired Major General Charles F. Bolden, Jr., U.S. Marine Corps and current Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps and completed flight training as a Naval Aviator in 1970. He flew more than 100 combat missions in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1972-1973. He was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1980.
His 34-year career in the Marine Corps included 14 years as a member of NASA’s Astronaut Office. He traveled to orbit four times aboard the space shuttle between 1986 and 1994. During his first mission on board the Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986, he participated in deployment of the SATCOM KU satellite and conducted experiments in astrophysics and materials processing. On his second mission in 1990, as pilot of the Space Shuttle Discovery, he and his crew successfully deployed the Hubble Space Telescope and conducted extensive scientific experimentation. On his third mission, he commanded the Space Shuttle Atlantis on the first Space Laboratory. During this 9-day mission the crew operated the ATLAS-1, a system composed of 12 experiments which succeeded in making a vast amount of detailed measurements of the Earth’s atmospheric chemical and physical properties.
Immediately following the third mission, Bolden was appointed Assistant Deputy Administrator for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which he held until assigned as commander of STS-60, the 1994 flight of a six member crew on the Space Shuttle Discovery. This landmark 8-day mission was the first joint US/Russian Space Shuttle mission, involving the participation of a Russian Cosmonaut as a mission specialist, a series of joint science activities, and carrying the Space Habitation Module-2 and Wake Shield Facility-01 into space. Bolden logged more than 680 hours in space.
In 1995, after serving as the Deputy Commandant of the U.S. Naval Academy, Bolden served as the Assistant Wing Commander, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in Miramar, CA. In July 1997 he was assigned as the Deputy Commanding General, 1 MEF, Marine Forces, Pacific. 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 Major General and became the Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces, Japan. In August 2000, he became the Commanding General 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, and retired in 2003.
Bolden began his duties as the twelfth Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on July 17, 2009, leading the NASA team and managing its resources to advance the agency’s missions and goals.