Friday, May 15, 2009

Obama to meet choice for NASA top job on Monday

Charles Holden will be the first African-American to head NASA.

It looks like Bill Nelson may finally get his man.

For months, the Florida senator has been an ardent advocate of retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden, a four-time shuttle astronaut, to be the next NASA administrator. Bolden, who would be the first African American to lead the civilian space agency, is now an aerospace consultant and is popular in the space community.

Nelson has been a Bolden fan since Bolden piloted the shuttle with Nelson aboard in 1986. But to Nelson's great frustration, the job has remained vacant. Twice, the White House floated the names of other candidates for the NASA post -- first Scott Gration, then Steve Isakowitz -- only to back down when congressional leaders balked.

Now, however, Bolden is expected to meet with President Obama at the White House on Monday. The meeting, first reported by NBC, suggests that Bolden has passed the major vetting tests and now merely has to make Obama comfortable with the selection.

The president has ordered up a sweeping review of NASA's human spaceflight strategy, and he may want to make sure that Bolden, a strong advocate of human spaceflight and the new Constellation program, will be open-minded about any possible changes in NASA's plans.

"Everybody loves and thinks highly of Charlie. And he is the extraordinary role model of someone who came from segregated South Carolina, who could not even get an appointment to the Naval Academy from his congressional delegation [and then was] promptly elected president of the freshmen class at Annapolis," Nelson said in an interview earlier this spring. read more here....

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