May 16, 2009

Obama To Interview Bolden For NASA Chief

U.S. President Barack Obama is considering former astronaut Charles Bolden as the next head of NASA, White House sources said.

He will meet with him Monday, and we'll see how that goes, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Friday.

Bolden is the candidate favored by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., who heads the Senate panel that oversees NASA, Florida Today reported Saturday. Bolden and Nelson flew together on a 1986 shuttle mission when Nelson flew as a payload specialist.

Bolden, who would face Senate confirmation, would replace Acting NASA Administrator Christopher Scolese, who replaced Michael Griffin in January. Bolden would be NASA's first African-American administrator.

The next administrator will lead NASA during a difficult time. The aging space shuttle fleet is scheduled to be retired at the end of next year and the White House has ordered an independent panel to review NASA's human space exploration program, including plans to return to the moon.