Former Deputy Administrator of NASA Lori Garver came out with a new book in June titled, “Escaping Gravity: My Quest to Transform NASA and Launch a New Space Age.” The book is a memoir of her time in the space sector, particularly focused on her time in the Obama Administration where she spearheaded commercialization efforts. Here, we talk about the book and other topics about the government organization and the private sector.
Q. What is the most important thing(s) you want readers to take away from your book?
I think that the value of humans first exploring space was most directly tied to looking back and seeing our home planet and recognizing we are in this together. We often envision space being about just going to somewhere else, but we have learned so much about ourselves and our planet from just going to space. I would like people to recognize that the government program can focus on those priorities and reduce the cost of accessibility to space, so even more people, satellites can go to space for valuable purposes.
How has the move toward commercial space you led helped the U.S. space program?
NASA has always had commercial industry involved in our space program very closely. What we have been starting, decades before, was recognizing the things that are routine about space could be done by the private sector in ways that reduce the cost through innovation and opening new markets. Lowering the cost of space transportation by some of the policies that I helped drive has allowed us to take better advantage of the unique vantage of space and allowed NASA to focus, or should allow even more, NASA to focus on things that are uniquely important to the government.
Time has named SpaceX and Tesla Founder/CEO Elon Musk as its 2021 Person of the Year. You can read the profile here. Time named vaccine scientists as heroes of the year.
Reaction on Twitter fell into familiar grooves, with praise from the space community where he has overwhelming support. Former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver tweeted her congratulations — and put in a plug for her forthcoming book.
Musk’s reputation outside the space community is much more mixed. Automotive journalist E.W. Niedermeyer, who wrote a critical book about Tesla Motors called Ludicrous, gave the selection a Bronx cheer.
Musk has faced significant backlash over his enormous wealth, the amount of taxes he pays, treatment of workers, accounting practices, downplaying of the COVID-19 pandemic and other issues.
Some suggested that medical staff who have risked and lost their lives on the front lines of the pandemic battle deserved the honor more.
Others suggested the officers who defended the U.S. Capitol from a mob that attacked it on Jan. 6.
Funding Led by Cultivation Capital to Power First Space Mission
WASHINGTON (Hydrosat PR) — Hydrosat, a company creating an infrared satellite constellation, announced that it raised a $5 million seed round led by Cultivation Capital, bringing its total raised to date to over $10 million. The round was led by Cultivation Capital with participation by Freeflow Ventures, the Yield Lab, Expon Capital, Techstars, Industrious Ventures, and Synovia Capital.
Hydrosat is flying a multi-spectral and thermal infrared mission with Loft Orbital on a SpaceX Falcon 9 in 2022. The company plans to launch an additional 16-satellite constellation with the capacity to scan the entire globe on a daily basis, generating science quality infrared data and an analytics-ready land surface temperature product.
UPDATE: The campaign ad has been removed from YouTube.
President Donald Trump’s new campaign commercial that focuses on America’s space program has spurred anger and might have broken the law by featuring NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who launched to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon last week.
Former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver tweeted:
Total politicization of @NASA, Bob, Doug & @SpaceX. Did they want to be used in a Trump campaign ad? Are these FEC [Federal Election Commission] & Hatch Act violations? “We are Americans & the future belongs totally to us” Really? Space should be healing, not dividing!
The Hatch Act limits the ability of federal employees to become involved in political activities. Behnken and Hurley are government employees because they work for NASA.
Hurley’s wife, former astronaut Karen Nyberg, is featured in the ad watching her husband and Behnken lift off aboard SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster on Saturday. She tweeted:
I find it disturbing that a video image of me and my son is being used in political propaganda without my knowledge or consent. That is wrong. @nasa@JimBridenstine
NASA has traditionally enjoyed bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans. A petition titled, Stop Donald Trump politicizing SpaceX and NASA accomplishments, has been posted on Change.org.
WASHINGTON (Earthrise Alliance PR) — Lori Garver, former NASA Deputy Administrator, has teamed with leading environmental and space scientists to form Earthrise Alliance, a philanthropic initiative established to fully utilize Earth science data to combat climate change. Earthrise funds fellowships and awards grants to partner organizations that engage and activate educators, journalists, voters and decision makers. In addition, Earthrise provides partners with meaningful content, tools and applications derived from satellite data to inform the actions of these target communities.
Former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver has a op-ed in The Hill arguing that NASA should dump the Space Launch System in the wake of the successful maiden flight of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy.
The question to be answered in Washington now is why would Congress continue to spend billions of taxpayer dollars a year on a government-made rocket that is unnecessary and obsolete now that the private sector has shown they can do it for a fraction of the cost?
If lawmakers continue on this path, it will siphon-off even more funds that NASA could otherwise use for science missions, transfer vehicles or landers that will further advance our understanding of the universe — and actually get us somewhere.
NASA has spent more than $15 billion to try and develop their own heavy lift rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), with a first flight planned in roughly two years — assuming all goes according to plan.
Once operational, SLS will cost NASA over $1 billion per launch. The Falcon Heavy, developed at zero cost to the taxpayer, would charge NASA approximately $100M per launch. In other words, NASA could buy 10 Falcon Heavy launches for the coat of one SLS launch — and invest the remainder in truly revolutionary and meaningful missions that advance science and exploration.
The Senate has approved Dava J. Newman as NASA’s new deputy administrator by an 87-0 vote. The approval comes 20 months after Lori Garver left the position for the top staff job at the Air Line Pilots Association.
Newman is a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and of engineering systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). [Biography] The White House nominated her for the position in October.
“It’s an enormous honor to serve at NASA in times when our country is extending humanity’s reach into space while strengthening American leadership here on Earth,” Newman said in a statement. “I’m profoundly grateful to President Obama, the United States Senate, and Administrator Bolden – along with everyone at MIT. I can’t wait to come aboard.”
President Barack Obama has nominated Dr. Dava Newman for the post of Deputy Administrator of NASA, a position that was left open by the departure of Lori Garver in September 2013.
Newman is best known in the space community for her working in designing a shrink-wrap type pressure suit called the BioSuit.
The White House provided the following biographical information in its press release:
Dr. Dava Newman is a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She first joined the MIT faculty in 1993 and has held a number of different faculty positions since then. Dr. Newman is a Harvard-MIT Health, Sciences and Technology faculty member and became a MacVicar Faculty Fellow in 2000. She is also the Director of the MIT Portugal Program, Director of the Technology and Policy Program, and Co-Director of the Man-Vehicle Laboratory at MIT. From 1992 to 1993, she was an Assistant Professor at the University of Houston. Dr. Newman received a B.S. from the University of Notre Dame and two S.M.s and a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
NASA space station managers hope to receive word this year on whether the orbiting outpost’s mission will be stretched beyond 2020 because an extension would require supporting investments starting as soon as 2015, a senior agency official said.
Statement from Space Florida President Frank DiBello on Lori Garver’s departure from NASA as Deputy Administrator, announced on August 6, 2013:
“More than anyone in Washington, Lori Garver has advocated passionately for the future of commercial space in the service this nation. That commitment has been challenged repeatedly by opposition from powerful competing interests around the country and on Capitol Hill. Although a fierce advocate for that which will ultimately secure this nation’s future in space, she was unfailingly warm and personable. We need more people like her in this industry. She remained ever faithful to her vision, and we are all the better for it.”
Aviation Week takes a closer look at Deputy Administrator Lori Garver’s impending Sept. 6 departure from NASA. Frank Morring, Jr. notes that Garver has been the major driver behind the agency’s controversial push for commercial space activities as well as the plan to capture an asteroid and have astronauts visit it. He also notes the following:
Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot, the agency’s No. 3 manager and top-ranking civil servant, is a likely possibility to fill Garver’s post on an acting basis until the White House can nominate another political appointee….
Garver’s departure will come on the heels of Elizabeth Robinson, the agency’s chief financial officer, who has been named under secretary of energy. Robinson and Garver were staunch allies in the often-heated management policy debates that pitted them against more traditional NASA managers, including Administrator Charles Bolden.
The announcement of Garver’s departure has already caused consternation among her supporters in the NewSpace community, who are losing their highest ranked advocate at the space agency at a critical time when Congress and the White House are at loggerheads over the space agency’s funding and direction.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The following are statements from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren about NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver’s announced departure from the agency, effective Sept. 6.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden: “I have had the pleasure and honor of working side by side with Lori for the past four years, as we sought to position the agency for 21st century spaceflight, scientific discovery and deep space exploration. She has been an indispensable partner in our efforts to keep NASA on a trajectory of progress and innovation. In a time of great change and challenge, she has been a remarkable leader who has consistently shown great vision and commitment to NASA and the aerospace industry.
NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver has confirmed a NASA Watch report that she will be leaving the space agency in September after four controversial years.
Garver has been a hero to the NewSpace community for pushing commercial space initiatives at the agency. Less than two weeks ago, she was welcomed warmly by members of the Space Frontier Foundation at the NewSpace 2013 Conference in San Jose, Calif.
Critics have been less kind, saying she has promoted unsustainable programs such as the Commercial Crew Program at the expense of deep space exploration.
I don’t yet have any insight as to why Garver is leaving, nor is it clear what her departure will mean for the future of the agency.