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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    CONTACT: John Blacksten


    Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr. To Receive The 2017 AIAA Public Service Award

    Honored for Service and Leadership to America's Space Program

    March 21, 2017 – Reston, Va. – Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., United States Marine Corps (retired) and former NASA administrator, has won the 2017 AIAA Public Service Award. Bolden will receive the award at the AIAA Aerospace Spotlight Awards Gala, May 3, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

    The award honors Bolden’s “service and leadership to our nation’s space program, advancing its economic competitiveness and ensuring the nation’s security.”

    “Charlie’s leadership of NASA was marked by a bold vision for the future of the agency and our nation’s endeavors in space” said Sandra Magnus, AIAA executive director. “From leading NASA through the end of the Space Shuttle program, to fully developing the International Space Station (ISS), to continuing the agency’s aeronautics mission, to deciding where to go next in the solar system and how we’ll get there – Charlie led by example, encouragement and a resolute belief that all spacefaring nations must work together if we hope to better understand the universe. He embodies all of the qualities that the AIAA Public Service Award represents.” Magnus concluded, “On behalf of AIAA and our members, I congratulate him on his receipt of this year’s Public Service Award, and thank him for all of his efforts to further our nation’s space exploration and aeronautics programs, as well as for his outstanding service in the U.S. Marine Corps.”

    In 2009, President Barack Obama appointed Bolden to be the 12th NASA administrator, making him only the second astronaut to hold that position. While heading NASA, Bolden oversaw the transition from the space shuttle system to a new era of exploration. He also oversaw efforts to fully use the ISS and develop new aeronautics technology.

    Bolden led the development of the Space Launch System and the Orion crew capsule. Bolden also oversaw the shift toward commercial space initiatives handling resupply of the ISS. He created NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, responsible for developing the technology that will make future exploration missions successful. Bolden’s tenure included the Mars Curiosity rover landing, the Juno mission that is helping us understand the planet Jupiter more completely, increasing the number of satellites tasked with Earth observation tasks and continuing progress toward the 2018 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope. Bolden also focused his attention on NASA’s aeronautics programs and the agency’s goal of developing airplanes that can travel faster, farther, quieter and greener than ever before.

    During his career as a NASA astronaut that began in 1980, Bolden flew on four space shuttle missions, logging over 680 hours in space. He piloted Space Shuttle Columbia in 1986 (STS-61C) and Space Shuttle Discovery in 1990 (STS-31) – the mission that deployed the Hubble Space Telescope. He also served as mission commander on Space Shuttle Atlantis in 1992 (STS-45) and Space Shuttle Discovery in 1994 (STS-60). Bolden also served as chief of NASA’s Safety Division at NASA Johnson Space Center in the wake of the 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger disaster.

    Bolden had a long and distinguished military career. A graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Bolden flew over 100 combat missions during the Vietnam War. He later served as a test pilot for the Naval Air Test Center’s Systems Engineering and Strike Aircraft Test Directorates. After completing his service as an astronaut in 1994, he served as the assistant commandant of midshipmen at the Naval Academy and in 1998 as the commanding general of the Marine expeditionary force attached to Operation Desert Thunder in Kuwait. He last served as commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, prior to his retirement from the Marine Corps.

    Bolden’s past honors include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal, three NASA Exceptional Service Medals and four NASA Space Flight Medals. He received the National Space Trophy in 2014 and holds several Honorary Doctorate degrees from numerous institutions of higher education. The U.S Astronaut Hall of Fame inducted him in 2006.

    The AIAA Public Service Award honors a person who has demonstrated sustained and visible support for aviation and space goals, and who is widely known outside of the aerospace community.

    For more information on the AIAA Public Service Award, or the AIAA Honors and Awards program, please contact Carol Stewart at 703.264.7538 or


    About AIAA

    The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) is nearly 30,000 engineers and scientists, and 95 corporate members, from 85 countries who are dedicated to advancing the global aerospace profession. The world’s largest aerospace technical society, the Institute convenes five yearly forums; publishes books, technical journals, and Aerospace America; hosts a collection of 160,000 technical papers; develops and maintains standards; honors and celebrates achievement; and advocates on policy issues. AIAA serves aerospace professionals around the world—who are shaping the future of aerospace—by providing the tools, insights, and collaborative exchanges to advance the state of the art in engineering and science for aviation, space, and defense. For more information, visit, or follow us on Twitter @AIAA.





    American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
    12700 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 200, Reston, VA 20191-5807
    Phone: 703.264.7558 Fax: 703.264.7551