Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden, Jr., USMC (Ret.)

12th Administrator of NASA (2009 - 2017)

Maj. Gen. Charles Frank Bolden Jr. (USMC-Ret.) was nominated by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate as the 12th Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). He began his duties as head of the Agency on July 17, 2009.

At NASA, Bolden oversaw the safe transition from 30 years of Space Shuttle missions to a new era of exploration focused on full utilization of the International Space Station and space and aeronautics technology development. He led the Agency in developing a Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft that will carry astronauts to deep space destinations, such as an asteroid and Mars. He also established a new Space Technology Mission Directorate to develop cutting-edge technologies for the missions of tomorrow. The Agency’s dynamic science activities under Bolden include an unprecedented landing on Mars with the Curiosity rover, launch of a spacecraft to Jupiter, and continued progress toward the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope.

Born August 19, 1946, in Columbia, SC, Bolden graduated from C. A. Johnson High School in 1964 and received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. He earned a bachelor of science degree in electrical science in 1968 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. In 1977, he earned a master of science degree in systems management from the University of Southern California.

Bolden’s 34-year career with the Marine Corps included 14 years as a member of NASA’s Astronaut Office. After joining the office in 1980, he traveled to orbit four times aboard the Space Shuttle between 1986 and 1994, commanding two of the missions and piloting two others. He retired from the Marine Corps in 2003 and was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in May 2006.

Bolden is married to the former Alexis (Jackie) Walker of Columbia, SC. The couple has two children—Anthony Chè, a colonel in the Marine Corps, who is married to the former Penelope McDougal of Sydney, Australia; and Kelly Michelle, a plastic surgeon at the Howard University Hospital in Washington. The couple has three granddaughters: Mikaley, Kyra, and Talia.