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Obama Picks African American to Head NASA

Published by Pamela Gentry on Thursday, May 28, 2009 at 12:23 am.
Marine Gen. Charles Bolden, Jr., named to head NASA by President Obama.

Marine Gen. Charles Bolden, Jr., named to head NASA by President Obama.

By Pamela Gentry, Senior Political Analyst

May 28, 2009 – President Obama is on a roll this week beginning with the nomination of the first Latino to fill a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court and following up with naming Gen. Charles Bolden, Jr. as the first African American to head  NASA.

Bolden will fill a post that has been vacant since January 20th, and will face a tough job at the space agency.  The once fearless agency has been hit hard by budget limitations, the lack of a comprehensive strategy for space travel and waning interest in space travel overall by the general public.

Bolden, a former marine General and Space Shuttle pilot, will need to determine what NASA will do next, establish priorities and get the agency’s public relations back on track.

This appointment will add another “first” to the space veteran’s resume.  The former Marine aviator was also the “first” African-American shuttle pilot.  This appointment comes a week after NASA sent a team to space to work on the Hubble Space Telescope. A mission Bolden knows too well.  He flew the space shuttle on four missions, including the one that released the telescope into orbit. 

The Congressional Black Caucus is pleased with Obama’s choice.  “Gen. Bolden has a long and distinguished résumé of military and NASA experience including flying more than 100 sorties in Vietnam and flying two space shuttle missions as pilot and two missions as commander,” Rep. Barbara Lee, chairwoman of the Caucus said.
 
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