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Charles Bolden Jr. was NASA administrator from 2009 to 2017, overseeing the transition from the Space Shuttle system to a new era of exploration focused on the International Space Station (ISS) and aeronautics technology development. He is now president and CEO of the Bolden Consulting Group LLC.
During his 34-year career with the Marine Corps, he worked in NASA’s Astronaut Office, during which he traveled into orbit four times and logged over 680 hours in space. He piloted the Space Shuttles Columbia in 1986 (STS-61C) and, in 1990, Discovery (STS-31), the mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, and he was mission commander on Space Shuttles Atlantis in 1992 (STS-45) and Discovery in 1994 (STS-60). He also served as chief of NASA’s Safety Division in the wake of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.
As NASA administrator, Maj. Gen. Bolden oversaw the shift toward commercial space initiatives handling ISS resupply and created the Space Technology Mission Directorate, responsible for developing the technology to make future exploration missions successful. His tenure included the triumph of the Mars Curiosity Rover landing, the success of the Juno mission that is enhancing knowledge of the planet Jupiter, an increase in the number of Earth observation satellites, and progress toward the expected 2020 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.
He was a US Department of State Science Envoy for Space (2018–19) and is an independent director of the LORD Corporation, Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings, and Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina in addition to numerous other professional affiliations.
Maj. Gen. Bolden earned his BS in electrical science from the US Naval Academy and MS in systems management from the University of Southern California.