Bolden confirmed as NASA chief

July 16, 2009 8:07:06 AM PDT
Just hours after NASA started its latest mission, a Houstonian was named NASA administrator. Retired Major General Charles Bolden is the new leader of the space agency.[FULL COVERAGE: NASA and space shuttle coverage]
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Gen. Bolden has twice commanded the shuttle and twice piloted it. The man who has logged nearly 700 hours in space is now the man in charge.

The road to becoming NASA's first African-American administrator began in 1980 for Charles Bolden Jr. when he was chosen to be an astronaut.

Three decades after being selected by NASA as an astronaut, Bolden is now at the helm of the entire agency. Confirmed by the senate Wednesday as the first African-American NASA administrator, he has already touched on what the future of space exploration may hold for Americans.

"I dream of a day when any American can launch into space and see the magnificence and grandeur of our home planet earth, as I have been blessed to do," said Gen. Bolden.

During the 1980s and 1990s, Bolden was strapped to the rocket boosters on four space shuttle missions, two as a pilot and two an commander. He was also on the team that deployed the Hubble space telescope.

Bolden left NASA in 1994 returning to the Marines and rising to the rank of major general. He retired from the military in 2004.

The 62-year-old takes the controls of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration during a major transition. In the next 18 months, construction on the International Space Station will be complete and the next milestone for NASA will be retiring its three aging space shuttles.

While still in Washington, he spoke with Eyewitness News by phone earlier Wednesday.

"It's great. It's spectacular. To be quite honest, I am very excited. It's been a big day," said Gen. Bolden.

We are told the official paperwork for his confirmation will filed with President Obama Thursday.

In addition, Lori Garver was confirmed as NASA's next deputy administrator.

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