Sunday, May 24, 2009

New NASA Chief Vietnam and Four-Time Space Shuttle Vet

The BBC reports that Charles Bolden is both a war hero--Naval aviator, Annapolis graduate, trained in Pensacola--and an addition to being the first African-American nominated to head the troubled US space program. Another good sign from the Obama administration. Here's what the BBC had to say:
Maj-Gen Bolden grew up in segregated South Carolina and flew on more than 100 combat sorties in Vietnam. He joined Nasa in 1980 and is a veteran of four space shuttle flights, commanding the mission that launched the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit in 1990.

He inherits the space agency at a critical time in its history. In 2004, President George W Bush instigated ambitious plans to return astronauts to the Moon by 2020, necessitating the replacement of the shuttle by a new space vehicle. However, the new Ares-Orion vehicle is not expected to be ready until 2015. So for five years after the shuttle's retirement in 2010, American astronauts will be dependent on Russia to fly them into orbit on their space capsule, Soyuz.

In addition, some of Nasa's biggest science programmes are over-budget. This month, the White House ordered a sweeping review of Nasa's manned spaceflight strategy.
Official NASA biography here: