Years Honored: 2001, 2007, 2011
Aircraft/Specialty: Grumman A-6A Intruder, Rockwell International Space Shuttle, Space Shuttle Discovery
Major General Bolden is the first African American Marine to serve as a NASA Space Shuttle pilot and commander. He successfully completed four missions, flying aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia (1986), Space Shuttle Discovery (1990), Space Shuttle Atlantis (1992) and Space Shuttle Discovery (1994). He left the space program having logged more than 680 hours in space. Throughout his career, he has logged more than 6,000 flying hours in over 30 different fixed and rotary wing aircraft.
As a young A-6A Intruder pilot in 1972-73, then-Captain Bolden flew more than 100 combat missions in Southeast Asia with the "Hawks" of VMA(AW)-533. He became the first black Marine to pilot and command the space shuttle, flying four missions aboard Columbia (1986), Discovery (1990 and 1994) and Atlantis (1992), and accumulating more than 680 hours in space. Throughout his career, he logged more than 7,000 flying hours in more than 30 different fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, ultimately reaching the rank of major general.
On 3 February 1994, Bolden and the STS-60 crew welcomed the first Russian cosmonaut aboard Space Shuttle Discovery. With the participation of Sergei Krikalyov as a mission specialist crew member, this historic mission was the first involving a joint-American/Russian Space Shuttle crew. The flight also carried Space Habitation Module-2 (SPACEHAB) and the Wake Shield Facility. While in space, the crew conducted a number of joint science activities culminating with 130 Earth orbits. The mission ended successfully on February 11 1994, with touch down at the Kennedy Space Center.