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NASA chief Bolden to speak at commencement, May 13 - Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Charles F. Bolden Jr., the first African American and the second ex-astronaut to lead NASA, will deliver the keynote address for Southern University’s spring commencement, May 13, 2001 in  F. G. Clark Activity Center, at 10:30 a.m.

With his Marine Corps background, and his experience as an astronaut, he is uniquely equipped to lead NASA into the 21st Century, and some hope, into the era of manned space flight to the moon and beyond. For Bolden, the role is another opportunity to inspire the children of those who serve in our nation’s military.

A long-time alumnus of the Space Agency, Bolden left NASA in 1994 to resume his career in the Marine Corps. In 2002, then-President George W. Bush unsuccessfully tried to appoint Bolden as the space agency’s deputy administrator. The Pentagon said it needed to keep Bolden in his role as a Marine general and pilot who had flown more than 100 sorties in Vietnam and the start of the Gulf War in 1991.

Bolden, 62, received confirmation last summer from the senate, where he has several supporters, including Florida Senator Bill Nelson, who flew as a guest during Bolden's first shuttle mission in January 1986, just two weeks before the deadly Challenger accident.

Bolden stayed with NASA during its painful recovery after Challenger and for another historic event. He was a pilot for the 1990 mission that launched the Hubble telescope into orbit. Ironically, the news of his appointment was made on the completion of the final shuttle mission to Hubble in late May.

Finally, he also commanded a 1992 shuttle atmospheric research flight and in 1994 led a mission that included the first Russian cosmonaut as a member of a shuttle crew. The astronaut/cosmonaut exchange program culminated in a partnership to operate the International Space Station, as it continues to thrive today.