Obama Picks Charles Bolden As NASA Chief

The Obama White House has already ordered a special panel to review the Constellation plan, and decide whether it is on the right track. One question before it is whether to abandon the Ares rocket, and instead use other existing boosters.

Bolden was born on Aug. 19, 1946, in Columbia, S.C. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis before becoming a Marine officer. He would be the first African American to lead NASA, and only the second astronaut to hold the job on more than an interim basis.

Most previous NASA administrators have either been engineers or had previous experience at government agencies.

Bolden is a former consultant on space issues for ABC News, and continued, up until the White House announcement, to consult for ABC's Houston affiliate, KTRK-TV. He told KTRK he has been asked by the White House not to give interviews until after his Senate confirmation.

One of Bolden's biggest backers in Washington has been Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who flew with Bolden on a space shuttle mission in 1986.

"He'll be facing budgetary constraints, technical issues, the remaining shuttle launches and the pending retirement of the shuttle program," said Nelson, "and restoring the wonder that space exploration can provide."

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