Born: Aug. 19, 1946
Background/significance: Bolden is Administrator of the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA), a retired US Marine Corps major general and a former NASA astronaut.
He was named by President Barack Obama to head NASA and was confirmed by the US Senate on July 15, 2009, becoming the first African-American to head the agency on a permanent basis.
Bolden, a 1968 graduate of the US Naval Academy, became an astronaut and space shuttle pilot in 1981, piloting the Space Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis on four missions from 1990-94. He logged more than 680 hours in space. He also flew more than 100 missions in Vietnam from 1972-73 and commanded various Marine units until retiring in 2003.
South Carolina connection: Bolden was born in Columbia, the son of educators. He graduated from C.A. Johnson High School before attending the Naval Academy. He has received honorary doctorate degrees from both the University of South Carolina and Winthrop University. He currently lives in Houston.