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Charles Bolden
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    (August 19, 1946- )
    Born in Columbia, South Carolina
    Marine aviator and test pilot
    Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen at the US Naval Academy (1994-97)
    Promoted to Major General (1998)
    Deputy Commander, US Forces Japan (1998-2000)
    Commander, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (2000-02)
    Piloted the space shuttles Columbia (January 12-18, 1986) and Discovery (April 24-29, 1990)
    Mission commander for flights by Atlantis (March 24-April 2, 1992) and Discovery (February 3-11, 1990)
    Nominated by Barack Obama to be Administrator of NASA
    Confirmed by the US Senate (July 15, 2009)
    NASA's Inspector General concluded that he had made 'inappropriate' contact with his former employer, Marathon Oil, to discuss NASA participation in alternative fuel projects (2010).
    He triggered a controversy in the right-wing blogosphere after telling al-Jazeera that one of his 'foremost' goals at NASA was 'to reach out to the Muslim world... to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science... and math and engineering.' (June, 2010)
    In most of his subsequent appearances, he was relegated to reading prepared statements and taking no questions.
    He likes to talk about sending men to Mars, even though he currently heads an agency dependent on Russian spacecraft to get astronauts up to the International Space Station.
    He got a Chicago Congressman to sponsor his appointment to Annapolis, because lawmakers in his native South Carolina would only choose white candidates.
    He flew over 100 combat missions during the Vietnam War.
    As an Astronaut Safety Officer, he personally tested the slidewire baskets designed to allow astronauts to escape from a shuttle on the launchpad.
    The Inspector General concluded that his talks with Marathon had not violated federal laws or ethics regulations.
    He earned the loyalty of much of NASA's workforce for minimizing firings despite the turmoil that surrounded the Obama administration's cancellation of the post-Shuttle Constellation program.

Credit: C. Fishel

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