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Black News and News Makers in History: Charles F. Bolden, Jr

African American news from Pasadena - Black News and News Makers in History recognizes Charles F. Bolden Jr. this week in Black history.Charles Frank Bolden, Junior, born August 19, 1946 in South Carolina, is NASA's current Administrator—the first African American to head the agency on a permanent basis. He is a former astronaut and retired Marine with the rank of Major General. He is dedicated to the education of children.

Charles earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968 and a Master of Science degree in Systems Management from the University of Southern California in 1977. He is an Omega Psi Phi member.

Following graduation from the Naval Academy, he accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1970, he was designated a naval aviator and flew over 100 missions during the Viet Nam war into North and South Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1972 to 1973. Until 1975, he was a selection and recruiting officer, then engaged in various assignments until 1978. In 1979, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center's Systems Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates, logging in more than 6,000 hours of flight time.

In 1980, Charles was selected as an astronaut candidate by NASA and was a member of the NASA Astronaut Corps until 1994 when he returned to active duty in the Marine Corps, serving as Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy. In 1998, he served as Commanding General in Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait and was later promoted to his final rank of Major General. He retired from the military in 2004 after 34 years of service.

While in the NASA Astronaut Corps, his assignments included Astronaut Office Safety Officer; Technical Assistant to the Flight Crew Operations Director; Special Assistant to the Johnson Space Center (JSC) Director; Astronaut Office Liaison to the Safety, Reliability and Quality Assurance Marshall Space Flight Center and Kennedy Space Center (KSC) Directorates; Chief of the JSC Safety Division; Lead Astronaut for Vehicle Test and Checkout at the KSC; and Assistant Deputy Administrator at the NASA Headquarters.

Charles is a veteran of four space flights, logging in nearly 700 hours in space. He served as a pilot on one mission and a mission commander on three missions. He was the first person to ride the Launch Complex 39 slidewire baskets enabling rapid escape from a space shuttle on the launch pad. He has served on the Columbia, Discovery, and Atlantis with missions that included the Hubble Space Telescope, IMAX, the Space Lab, numerous experiments, a joint American/Russian Space Shuttle mission, the Space Hab, and the Wake Shield Facility.

Appointed NASA Administrator in 2009, among his primary goals are to help inspire children to want to get into science and math and to expand NASA's international relationships.

Compiled from various Internet sources.