May 23rd, 2009
11:29 AM ET
14 years ago

Obama taps ex-astronaut to head NASA

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Charles Bolden flew two space shuttle missions as a pilot and two missions as a commander."]

WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama on Saturday announced plans to nominate an African-American astronaut to fill NASA's administrator post.

He is Charles Bolden, a retired Marine general who had been selected in 1980 as an astronaut, flying two space shuttle missions as pilot and two missions as commander.

After the Challenger accident in 1986, Gen. Bolden had been named the chief of the safety division at the Johnson Space Center "with responsibilities for overseeing the safety efforts in the return-to-flight efforts," the White House said.

According to the White House, Bolden began his service in U.S. Marine Corps in 1968 and "flew more than 100 sorties in Vietnam from 1972-73."

Bolden is now chief executive officer of JackandPanther LLC, a privately-held military and aerospace consulting firm, the White House said.

Obama also announced plans to nominate Lori Garver, as deputy administrator of NASA. She was lead civil space policy adviser for Obama and helped lead the Agency Review Team for NASA during the presidential transition.

She has served as NASA's associate administrator of the Office of Policy and Plans and primary NASA spokeswoman.

"These talented individuals will help put NASA on course to boldly push the boundaries of science, aeronautics and exploration in the 21st century and ensure the long-term vibrancy of America's space program," Obama said in a statement released by the White House.

Filed under: Popular Posts • President Obama
soundoff (144 Responses)
  1. JT

    Excellent person to fill the job.

    @Anonymous – No wonder you post under that name. Your comments show you are clearly prejudiced.

    May 23, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  2. Gwen, WA


    This man didn't just "happen to be African American". He IS AFRICAN AMERICAN, and it didn't just happen. Yes he's extremely qualified, but there have been many extremely qualified minorities. Guess what, they were passed up during the 51 year history of the agency. This did not just "happen" either.

    Congrats to President Obama for opening the pool of qualified people for this selection.

    May 23, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  3. dmjakers

    To have already retired as a general he looks very young. He's four times already been where no man is going again once the space shuttle is decommissioned.

    May 23, 2009 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. Ken in NC

    If I was going to have surgery and the team of surgeons totalled 6 surgeons, I would want the team leader to be a surgeon that has surgical erperience. The same thing applies to NASA and this guy has "Hands On" experience with space flight and with safety.

    May 23, 2009 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  5. Col. Rogers

    I think this guy is a fantastic leap forward from hiring someone
    who had ZERO experience with science & engineering (Sean
    O'Keefe comes to mind). The current administrator (Michael Griffin)
    *is* a well respected scientist and engineer. The same cannot be
    said about the choice of deputy administrator. It's clearly a political
    payback decision.

    May 23, 2009 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  6. Lynn

    So why hasn't CNN identified the race of Lori Gover? CNN's constant need to identify minorities as it did throughout the 2008 election is getting tired and divisive.

    May 23, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  7. Americans for Justice

    Things always get more dynamic when there is a break in a long tradition. Bolden is definitely a breath of fresh air...just like Obama.

    May 23, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  8. Nancy, SD

    Whites are completely fine with not seeing color when the color is "white". The minute the color is "black", they're oppose to any mention of the fact. Get over yourselves.

    Given the history of NASA, this man's race is historic. That's it, nothing more, nothing less.

    May 23, 2009 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  9. Anonymous

    Prejudice ?Only 13% of our nation is AFRICAN AMERICAN.

    May 23, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  10. Carl W Smelcer

    Great choice. His track record speaksfor its self. Making a big deal out of him being a Negro was not necessary. As for calling him a African American, Where in Africa did he come from? Being borrn in Africa is the only qualification for being called an Africa American.

    May 23, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  11. Independent-Fred

    dan *wrote*

    There's a suprise…some dumb liberal will now be talking about how historical this is now…get over it.

    Yea...and some equally dumb conservative will write some hate filled rebuttal.

    Yea both extremes are a joke and I for one am sick of both your antics. Pelosi, Limbaugh, Reid, Cheney, Frank & Gingrich.

    You're act is seriously getting old.

    May 23, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  12. Osama Bin Laden

    Keep 'um coming Obeme yo playin' right into me hands!!!

    May 23, 2009 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  13. Americans for Justice


    Wake up and smell the coffee...this is 2009! What used to be is no more. The once majority are now becoming a minority. If you want to live in the 1930-1960 era, you are on the wrong planet...hahahaha

    May 23, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  14. MD in Oklahoma

    Anonymous, the only statistic you got right was the 13%.

    May 23, 2009 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  15. ThinkAboutIt

    Good to hear someone qualified will be heading up NASA., a very valuable (albeit expensive) part of our government.

    May 23, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  16. Patricia

    I think CNN is becoming an all black station...All you ever see on CNN anymore is stories about blacks...This says alot about what they will cover and not cover...

    May 23, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  17. worriedmom

    why does it always have to be about race with CNN. Look regardless of what color the man is, he appears to be exceptionally qualified. I find it almost disgraceful that you have to downplay this great appt with putting race in there. You have to wonder if CNN wants their to be racial divide.

    May 23, 2009 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  18. Americans for Justice

    Evryone in this forum just take a breath for a second!

    You never know, Bolden might just be the one to head NASA when they finally find life out there!

    Who ever thought credit card companies could be forced to desist from cheating the American people...not until Obama came on the scene! A breath of fresh air brings in new possibilities...

    So guys just relax, Bolden might lead NASA to realize it's long quest of finding life out there!

    May 23, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  19. Mike in Texas

    As long as a person is qualified it doesn't matter what race or sex or anything else they are. If they are qualified that is the most important thing.

    David Stanley,

    Your comment proves you are a racist. If he is the best qualified and he happens to be African American then so what? Did you even think that out of that 5% you mention, the best could be within that five? Obviously not. You make an assumption that the best qualified cannot come from the minority simply because there are less of them.

    Quit projecting your racism on others and admit that you are one then maybe you can move forward.

    May 23, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  20. barking republican ankle biters

    Lets get TCM and his forty other names on here to go on the Mars mission.

    May 23, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  21. And ?????

    Who cares the colour of his skin, if he can do the job ?????

    May 23, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  22. Tom

    Charles Bolden is a very good choice. He's a seasoned leader at many levels. He will be as good for NASA as he was for our Y-Indian Princesses many years ago. Go Charlie!

    May 23, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  23. me

    this is first time I hear of him. I personally think that head of NASA should be scientist first. Someone really brilliant, smart, knowing what to do, where to lead the research, ofense to a pilot, but scientist will know what is necessary most

    May 23, 2009 12:09 pm at 12:09 pm |
  24. misterv

    @ Lynn ,I agree Lynn Its always the same ole same ole on CNN . It started with The President and they still haven't figured out that we are human beings first ! It makes me crazy that a organization such as CNN stoops to that level and continues to MAGNIFY YYYYYYY the race issue .They are becomming more like FOX NEWS everyday. They search for and then ACCENTUATE the negative .Its hard for me to keep watching CNN anymore with all ther conservative leanings.Did RUSH LIMBERGER become the defacto news editor on CNN as well as the Rep party ?

    May 23, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  25. Alex

    I'm glad Obama chose someone who has actually been out there to head NASA, rather than some pencil pusher who never got beyond his desk. We're at the point now where, frankly, there should never be anyone BUT an astronaut in charge.

    May 23, 2009 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
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