NASA says farewell to agency leaders, Charles Bolden and Dava Newman

Marshall Space Flight Director Robert Lightfoot to act as NASA administrator

By Emilee Speck - Digital journalist
NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA town hall meeting with NASA's Deputy Administrator Dava Newman and NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, Tuesday, May 19, 2015 at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

The final week of having Charles Bolden and Dava Newman as NASA’s top officials has arrived.

The space agency reflected this week on the past eight years under NASA Administrator Bolden's and President Barack Obama’s leadership.

Marshall Space Flight Director Robert Lightfoot will be the acting NASA administrator until President-elect Donald Trump names Bolden’s successor, reported Spacepolicy.com on Thursday.

Bolden, a former astronaut, was nominated by Obama as the 12th NASA administrator and began leading the agency in July 2009. He is the first African-American to lead NASA.

Deputy Administrator Dava Newman will also leave her position on Jan. 20. Newman plans to return to teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she earned her Ph.D. in aerospace biomedical engineering.

NASA released a video Thursday narrated by LeVar Burton, of "Star Trek: The Next Generation," dedicated to Bolden’s service at NASA and highlighting the discoveries during the last eight years.

“From the segregated south to space, Charlie Bolden’s journey has served to shape a true leader,” Burton said in the video.

Bolden was one of the first black astronauts to fly aboard the space shuttle, which he did four times, and was part of the crew that placed the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.

As NASA administrator, Bolden saw the agency through a period of transition: the end of the Space Shuttle program, working with commercial space companies to resupply the International Space Station and the development of NASA’s future Mars space launch system.

“Eight Years may not be long when dealing with galaxies light-years away, but our space program marches on,” NASA tweeted Thursday.

In space exploration, the long game is key.

“Mars was always 40 years away, or 30 years away,” Bolden said in a news release. “But today, it’s closer than ever before.”

Watch the full tribute below.

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