The US administration has finally nominated their choice for future NASA Administrator, and it's a former shuttle pilot with administrative experience who seems to understand what NASA is all about. How soon can he start?
The White House nominated former marine Major General Charles F. Bolden for the position over the weekend. In addition to piloting two space shuttle missions (and commanding two more, including the first joint US-Russian mission), he's also already held the positions of assistant deputy administrator of NASA headquarters, and virtual host of the Shuttle Launch Experience attraction at Kennedy Space Center. According to New Scientist, those aren't his only good qualities:
Well-regarded in the space community, Bolden told a Senate subcommittee three years ago that human space exploration and science were "parallel endeavours that are mutually supportive if we are to realise success in either".
He was also a member of a panel that in 2004 urged NASA to send a space shuttle back to Hubble to make the just-completed repairs.
"Charlie grasped the scientific imperative, and contributed importantly to the discussion of shuttle capabilities and issues," recalls Louis Lanzerotti, a solar physicist at the New Jersey Institute of Technology who chaired the panel. "I think he'd be a fine administrator."
If his nomination is confirmed by the US Senate, Bolden will become only the second former astronaut to hold the Administrator position, and the first African American.
Former astronaut nominated as next NASA chief [New Scientist]