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. David Evan

    So they want to make me an administrator. God, I hope not.

    May 23, 2009 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. Jay

    @independant-Fred: What extreme leftists do we have in power? How are Pelosi and Reid anything but righwing corporate assets? There are liberal citizens in the US, but you have to go to Europe to find liberal politicians that are actually in office. I wish we had liberals in Congress...

    May 23, 2009 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  3. Machiavelli, Baton Rouge, LA

    Geeezzz, people. Get a life. According to his brief biography, the man seems to be quite capable of running NASA.

    Why should his race matter, whether you are for him or against him?

    May 23, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  4. Uknow

    since when a white man been in the NASA and nobody say anything bad or complain? .. oh because this person is now black everybody make a big deal about it .

    how many Year white man been in the NASA?


    May 23, 2009 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  5. w.l. jones

    Why not leave color alone and constrate on finding an Earth like planet. With global warming.and the rate oil supply being deplete we better get on with the business of population a new Earth so our kind will survivae far into the future. Mr. Bolden just might be the one to get the ball rolling.

    May 23, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  6. Proud American

    Anonymous@Anonymous May 23rd, 2009 11:55 am ET

    Prejudice ?Only 13% of our nation is AFRICAN AMERICAN.
    Grow a pair and print your name...What would you call never having one in it's 50 year history? Moron.

    May 23, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  7. aj


    if you looked at any REAL statistics, you would see that african americans have either positions equal to or less than their "share" of leadership positions: despite having 13% of total us population, 9.5% of congress is black, only ONE out of 50 senators are black, one out of nine (before Souter retires) supreme court justices are black (Clarence Thomas).... the list goes on and on

    May 23, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  8. Jim Guines

    It seems as no one posting comments here has never heard of Fredrick Gregory from Wash,DC who was the first African American to head the space program. Gen Dalton is the second.

    May 23, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |

    I don't care about the guys in NYC I have just as many black friends as I do white friends.....For that matter hispanic, indian, and asian friends......color/sex doesn't matter. Only qualifications....By the President selecting woman, and other ethnicities for jobs it begins to blurr the line between color and sex....It just leaves the real question of, is this person qualified? That's all that counts.

    May 23, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  10. Semper51

    Any individual who makes it to Marine General and Shuttle Mission Commander is certainly leadership material.

    May 23, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  11. Don Gillespie

    Forget skin color. Move on.

    May 23, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  12. Concerned

    For a critical post like this, one needs only one qualification: a plain spoken, committed, dedicated cool headed risk taker, who literally know the nuts and bolts of the business of space aviation. Griffin was and is one has all of these in abundance measure, being a rare combination of a rocket scientist and an able administrator, who brought NASA out of the doldrums post Columbia – just ask any of the avid space community members and they will concur.
    I am disappointed in Obama for trying to get political mileage out of a nomination like this. Space aviation knows no color – I have a feeling this guy will turn out to be another O'Keefe : resume has all the points on paper, but missing that essential pizzaz which makes a great scientist-leader.

    May 23, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  13. Lok Raj

    A well qualified and experienced candidate being chosen for such a demanding post is a reflection of true leadership committed for advancement of science and technology.

    Congrats Gen. Bolden!

    May 23, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  14. P Gitu

    NASA needs to be lead by a scientist!

    May 23, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  15. Matt

    Gen. Bolden is an exceptional leader. NASA is in good hands. My congratulations to the General.


    I'm disturbed by the overt racism that is being posted in the comments here.

    Realize this, the black population has been held down for some time, and it has taken some MORE time for the generational shift to take place–it had been, unfortunately, an issue of education and opportunity for hundreds of years.

    We now have the good fortune to truly be able to select our leaders based on the content of their character and not by the color of their skin.

    May 23, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  16. ozzi257

    Whites were never in the majority except in power. That's why the white only laws were enacted during the 1620s (yes, I said 1620s) when black slavery replaced white indentured servitude (white slavery, because it was very rare whites could complete the terms of the indentured contract). Skin color makes for an easy target.

    May 23, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. Grant H.

    It looks like Mr. Obama has picked a very well qualified individual to lead NASA. The fact the man is black is as important to me as whose shirts the man wears. CNN needs to get over their race hang-ups.

    May 23, 2009 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6