Col CharlesBolden USMC
Image by Judge Rock
Bolden accepted a commission as a second lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps following graduation from the United States Naval Academy in 1968. He underwent flight training at Pensacola, Florida, Meridian, Mississippi, and Kingsville, Texas, before being designated a naval aviator in May 1970. He flew more than 100 sorties into North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, in the A-6A Intruder while assigned to VMA(AW)-533 at Namphong, Thailand, June 1972 to June 1973.
Upon returning to the United States, Bolden began a two-year tour as a Marine Corps selection officer and recruiting officer in Los Angeles, California, followed by three years in various assignments at the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, California. In June 1979, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland, and was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center’s Systems Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates. While there, he served as an ordnance test pilot and flew numerous test projects in the A-6E, EA-6B, and A-7C/E airplanes.
He has logged more than 6,000 hours flying time.
Bolden was selected an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1980 and served with NASA until 1994.
Bolden left NASA and returned to active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps as the Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, effective June 27, 1994. In July 1997, he was assigned as the Deputy Commanding General, I MEF, Marine Forces, Pacific. From February to June 1998, he served as Commanding General, I MEF (FWD) in support of Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait. In July 1998 he was promoted to final rank of Major General and assumed his duties as the Deputy Commander, U.S. Forces, Japan.
Major General Bolden’s then served as the Commanding General, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, serving from August 9, 2000 until August 2002. He retired in August 2004.
 NASA experience
Selected by NASA in May 1980, Bolden became an astronaut in August 1981. His technical assignments included: Astronaut Office Safety Officer; Technical Assistant to the Director of Flight Crew Operations; Special Assistant to the Director of the Johnson Space Center; Astronaut Office Liaison to the Safety, Reliability and Quality Assurance Directorates of the Marshall Space Flight Center and the Kennedy Space Center; Chief of the Safety Division at JSC; Lead Astronaut for Vehicle Test and Checkout at the Kennedy Space Center; and Assistant Deputy Administrator, NASA Headquarters. A veteran of four space flights, he has logged over 680 hours in space. Bolden served as pilot on STS-61C (January 12–18, 1986) and STS-31 (April 24–29, 1990), and was the mission commander on STS-45 (March 24, 1992 – April 2, 1992), and STS-60 (February 3-11, 1994).
Bolden was the first person to ride the Launch Complex 39 slidewire baskets which enable rapid escape from a shuttle on the launch pad. The need for a human test was determined following a launch abort on STS-41-D where controllers were afraid to order the crew to use the untested escape system.
 Space flight experience
STS-61C Space Shuttle Columbia. During the six-day flight crew members deployed the SATCOM KU satellite and conducted experiments in astrophysics and materials processing. STS-61C launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, on January 12, 1986. The mission was accomplished in 96 orbits of Earth, ending with a successful night landing at Edwards Air Force Base on January 18, 1986.
STS-31 Space Shuttle Discovery. Launched on April 24, 1990, from the Kennedy Space Center. During the five-day mission, crew members deployed the Hubble Space Telescope and conducted a variety of middeck experiments. They also used a variety of cameras, including both the IMAX in cabin and cargo bay cameras, for Earth observations from their record-setting altitude over 400 miles. Following 75 orbits of Earth in 121 hours, STS-31 Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base on April 29, 1990.
On STS-45 Bolden commanded a crew of seven aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis. Launched on March, 24 from the Kennedy Space Center. STS-45 was the first Spacelab mission dedicated to NASA’s Mission to Planet Earth. During the nine-day mission, the crew operated the twelve experiments that constituted the ATLAS-1 (Atmospheric Laboratory for Applications and Science) cargo. ATLAS-1 obtained a vast array of detailed measurements of atmospheric chemical and physical properties, which contribute significantly to improving our understanding of our climate and atmosphere. In addition, this was the first time an artificial beam of electrons was used to stimulate a man-made auroral discharge. Following 143 orbits of Earth, STS-45 Atlantis landed at the Kennedy Space Center on April 2, 1992.
On STS-60 he commanded a crew of six aboard Space Shuttle Discovery. This was the historic first joint U.S./Russian Space Shuttle mission involving the participation of a Russian Cosmonaut as a mission specialist crew member. The flight launched on February 3, 1994, from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and carried the Space Habitation Module-2 (Spacehab-2), and the Wake Shield Facility-01 (WSF-1). Additionally, the crew conducted a series of joint U.S./Russian science activities. The mission achieved 130 orbits of the Earth, ending with a landing on February 11, 1994, at the Kennedy Space Center.
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