Retired astronaut Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden is set to take over NASA July 20 as the space agency awaits the results of a blue-ribbon panel conducting an outside review of NASA's program.
Just hours after the July
15 liftoff of the space shuttle Endeavour to a 16-day mission to the International
Space Station, the U.S. Senate confirmed retired astronaut Maj. Gen. Charles
Bolden to be the next administrator of NASA. Bolden will be sworn into office
July 20, the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon.
Former NASA Associate Administrator
Lori Garver was also confirmed as NASA's deputy administrator.
Bolden, who flew four
shuttle missions between 1986 and 1994, is inheriting an agency roiled by
budget issues and a fierce debate over the direction of U.S. manned space flight. In May,
President Obama ordered an outside review of NASA's program to return to the
moon. The 90-day inquiry will re-exam NASA's replacement plans for the space
shuttle fleet, currently scheduled for retirement late next year, and whether
it might be better to bypass the moon for missions further out into the solar
A blue-ribbon panel of
experts is conducting the review, led by former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine.
"Today, we have to
choose. Either we can invest in building on our hard-earned world technological
leadership or we can abandon this commitment, ceding it to other nations who
are working diligently to push the frontiers of space," Bolden said.
""If we choose to lead, we must build on our investment in the
International Space Station [and] accelerate development of our next-generation
launch systems to enable expansion of human exploration."
During his confirmation
hearing, Bolden told lawmakers NASA also needs to continue cutting-edge
aeronautics research, support the innovation of American entrepreneurs and
"inspire a rising generation of boys and girls to seek careers in science,
technology, engineering and math."
marks the beginning of his second career turn at NASA. His 34-year career with
the Marine Corps included 14 years as a member of NASA's Astronaut Office.
After joining the office in 1980, his flights included deployment of the Hubble
Space Telescope and the first joint U.S.-Russian shuttle mission, which
featured a cosmonaut as a member of his crew.
Bolden also drew
technical assignments as the Astronaut Office safety officer; technical
assistant to the director of Flight Crew Operations; special assistant to the
director of the Johnson Space Center; chief of the Safety Division at Johnson
(overseeing safety efforts for the return to flight after the 1986 Challenger
accident); lead astronaut for vehicle test and checkout at the Kennedy Space
Center; and assistant deputy administrator at NASA headquarters. He was
inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in May 2006.
Immediately prior to
Bolden's nomination for the NASA administrator's job, he was employed as the CEO of JACKandPANTHER, a small
business enterprise providing leadership, military and aerospace consulting,
and motivational speaking.