Retired astronaut Gen. Charles Bolden is the current National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Administrator. Picked by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, He is the first African-American to head the agency on a permanent basis.
Born in 1946 in segregated South Carolina, he had to study in a blacks-only school. His perseverance and high grades earned him a spot at the U.S. Naval Academy. He then became one of the United Sates Marine Corps' outstanding pilots, flying more than 100 missions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.
Bolden was selected by NASA as an astronaut candidate in 1980. He went on to be a part of various shuttle flights, including two flights for which he was shuttle commander.
In 1994, he returned to active duty in the Marine Corps, from which he retired a decade later.
New ethics rules designed to prevent conflict of interest could were brought up by the media before the confirmation process, as he has been lobbyist and/or board member at major NASA contractors.
Bolden was confirmed by the U.S. Senate as NASA Administrator in July of 2009. As Administrator, he leads the NASA team and manages its resources to advance the agency's missions and goals.