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.
In this third and final excerpt from the NewSpace 2013 conference, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver answers reporters’ questions about the future of the International Space Station, cargo services to the orbiting facility, and experiments being done there.
Q. But, do you have any more Progress cargos going up next year?
Garver: Oh, we’re not going with Progress anymore….We’re not going with the Russians anymore, it turns out we’ve got U.S. capability.
Q. It just seems like the U.S. capability is only starting to get a little finger nail hold on it, and it feels a little unstable to me to be stopping the Progress cargo before you’ve got that finally going. Cygnus hasn’t even gone operational yet, they’re still demonstrating.
Last week, Deputy Administrator Lori Garver met with reporters after giving a keynote address at the NewSpace 2013 Conference in San Jose, Calif.
In this excerpt from the discussion, Garver makes some opening remarks about NASA’s proposed Asteroid Retrieval Mission and its Grand Challenge to protect the Earth from asteroid impacts before taking questions.
Lori Garver: As we’ve announced today, we are really excited about the overwhelming response to the RFI because we have ourselves, we believe, not only a mission but the grand challenge that does offer opportunities for space development and for our space program that are so aligned with the nation’s goals and with our existing programs.
Last week, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver met with reporters after giving a keynote address at the NewSpace 2013 Conference in San Jose, Calif. Below is an excerpt of the conversation relating to the space Agency’s Commercial Crew program.
Parabolic Arc will run other excerpts from the discussion on the Asteroid Retrieval Mission and International Space Station in the days ahead.
Q. On a little different subject from the asteroid mission, you talked about commercial crew. In the past, you know you’ve talked for the need for full funding for commercial crew in FY 14. If you end up with something closer to what the House is offering, $500 million, or worse a CR [continuing resolution] and another round of sequestration, what does that do to the program looking forward? Can you protect the 2017 date [for commercial service] any longer, or does it shift out?
Kickstarter campaigns are run for everything from funding trips to building asteroid hunting telescopes. Need a design for something? Describe your project, have designers put forth their best efforts, and purchase the one you like the best.
Now crowd sourcing has come to NASA. And the space agency is doing it for the boldest human spaceflight initiative since Apollo program sent men to the moon more than 40 years ago.
Officials will also outline engagement opportunities for industry, international partners and the general public at the event, which will take place from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. EDT in the James Webb Auditorium of NASA Headquarters at 300 E St. SW in Washington.
In addition to Garver and Lightfoot, mission directorate associate administrators William Gerstenmaier, John Grunsfeld, and Michael Gazarik will give an overview of the work being done on NASA’s asteroid mission. Jason Kessler, representing the agency’s chief technologist, will talk about how NASA plans to increase partnerships and citizen science participation in NASA’s effort to find and plan for all asteroid threats.
Some morning highlights of the first day of the Next-generation Suborbital Researchers Conference 2013 here in Broomfield, Colo.:
Addressing the group via video, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver said NASA is not excluding the possibility that the Flight Opportunities program would fund human researchers on suborbital fights. Previously, NASA had said it would purchase flights for payloads but not for researchers to fly.
Garver provided no details on precisely what safety standards the space agency would require prior to paying for researchers to fly.
NASA has spent $29.5 million on the Flight Opportunities program over the past three years, and it has requested an additional $15 million for FY2014. In 2010, Garver addressed the first NSRC and said NASA would seek $15 million per year over 5 years, but the agency has not received all the funding it requested.
The deputy administrator also announced plans for a joint solicitation for science and tech payloads to be issued by NASA’s Science and Space Tech directorates. The solicitation is expected to be pushed in late summer or early fall.
XCOR Chief Operating Officer Andrew Nelson said that while satellites have been removed from the U.S. Munitions List in draft regulations, crew spacecraft have been added to it. Calling the decision a major step backward, Nelson urged urged audience members to oppose this move during the on-going public comments period.
Virgin Galactic Vice President for Special Projects Will Pomerantz said the company has taken reservations for nearly 600 people worldwide for flights aboard the company’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicles.
Pomerantz added that NanoRacks has delivered the first payload racks for flying experiments aboard the space plane.