Charles Frank Bolden, Jr., the former Administrator of NASA, was born on August 19, 1946 in Columbia, South Carolina. Bolden was the first permanent African American Administrator of NASA and is also a retired United States Marine Corps Major General and a former NASA astronaut. Bolden graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1968 with a B.S. degree in electrical science. In 1977 he received a M.Sc. degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California. Bolden graduated in 1979 from the United States Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station, Patuxent River, Maryland.
He served in the Vietnam War as a pilot and flew between 1972 and 1973 over 100 sorties in North and South Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. He was selected as an astronaut candidate in 1980, became an astronaut in August of 1981 and served as an astronaut until 1994. While in service as an astronaut he logged over 680 hours in space which included four space flights. Bolden’s leadership on earth transferred to space where he piloted the Space Shuttle Columbia, piloted the Space Shuttle STS-31’s Discovery, commanded the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis and commanded the crew aboard the Space Shuttle STS-60’s Discovery.
President Barack Obama selected Bolden as the Administrator of NASA in 2009 and he was confirmed by the United States Senate on July 15, 2009. Bolden served as the Administrator of NASA until January 20, 2017. He and his wife the former Alexis (Jackie) Walker have two children.