Ex-shuttle commander Maj. Gen. Charles Bolden nominated to head NASA

Ex-shuttle commander Maj. Gen. Charles BoldenWashington: Former US shuttle commander, and retired US Marine Corps general, Maj Gen Charles Bolden has been named to head NASA, the White House announced Saturday. Gen Bolden is set to become the first African-American to head NASA pending confirmation by the Senate.

Also on Saturday, Lori Garver was named as Bolden's deputy. Garver is the president of Capital Space, Llc.

"These talented individuals will help put NASA on course to boldly push the boundaries of science, aeronautics and exploration in the 21st century and ensure the long-term vibrancy of America's space program," Obama said.

In college, Bolden, 59, earned top grades at the US Naval Academy, was elected president of his class and graduated a Marine second lieutenant, NASA said in a statement.

He flew more than 100 missions in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia before becoming a Marine Corps test pilot and NASA astronaut who piloted two shuttle flights and commanded two shuttle missions, NASA said.

Bolden retired from the military as a Marine Corps major general in 2003.