13 thoughts on “Lori Garver’s Book”

  1. Great review, Rand.

    Like you say, there’s any number of issues to disagree with Garver about. But for what she managed to do at NASA, against enormous opposition, in 2009-13, I’m tempted to build a statue to her outside NASA HQ.

  2. Rand I concur with Richard M, great review. I’ll have to get this book. Also want to pick your brain a bit. I remember the Space Frontier Foundation and NSS split back in the 80s but did the Space Studies Institute (SSI) spin off from the Space Frontier Foundation? Seems like I remember a connection there.

  3. I believe SSI was (perhaps still is) headed by Rotary Rocket cofounder Gary Hudson.

    1. Yes, assuming this is the same Gary Hudson, his name does show up on the website’s Officers and Board page as the President of the organization.

      The Roton Rocket was surely an odd duck when compared to the DC-X. Too bad it didn’t make it as a company. I would have loved seeing these come down on their ‘beanie cap propellers’…

  4. Rand, from your familiarity with the events she describes, would you say that she singlehandedly managed to get Commercial Crew approved? From the excerpts I’ve seen that seems to be what she’s claiming. I guess I’m a bit of a cynic about that sort of thing, but I’m always suspicious when someone makes claims like that. If it’s really true, that’s amazing and she deserves every accolade. Even if it’s only an exaggeration, we still owe her a great debt for her role in the struggle. Sorry…I can’t help a bit of skepticism sometimes.

      1. The sad truth is that commercial crew almost didn’t happen with her and, in part, because of a number of rookie mistakes that were made, to be sure some of which were above her pay grade. I would credit three people with its success far more than Lori Garver, a living embodiment of how to make enemies and alienate people. They are Elon Musk, Jim Bridenstine, and Kathy Lueders. Without them, commercial crew would have died on the vine like a lot of other NASA programs.

        1. Hello Mark,

          I’m second to no one in my admiration for Jim Bridenstine, but I’m perplexed at how he gets more credit for Commercial Crew than Lori Garver. He wasn’t even a political actor of any kind until the 113th Congress in 2013; and as a freshman member of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology he perforce had a minimal role in setting NASA policy, and in any event Commercial Crew had already been in existence for three years before he even sat in that seat. By the time he became NASA administrator in 2018 Commercial Crew was uncancellable, barring some major disaster. He gets credit for enthusiastically supporting Commercial Crew once he was running NASA; and for things like CLPS, HLS, and the Artemis Accords, he has plankowner credit, no question. But Commercial Crew was fully put in place well before he had any significant role to play in space policy.

          As for Lori Garver, it may well be the case that playing well with others is not considered by some to be among her chief virtues. But this credit remains hers, forever: She was dead right about how NASA should be procuring most of its space capabilities at a time when most people in Washington and even most of the space industry thought she was dead wrong; and when she had the power and influence to actually make it possible, she did, however imperfectly she might have gone about it.

          1. I see that I am going to have to expand on this.
            By 2013, while commercial crew was being funded, it was very much on life support and could have died on the vine, IMHO. Two crucial things happened that improved its chances. Garver left NASA and Kathy Lueders took charge of commercial crew as program manager. Without Garver being the focus of near-universal disdain in NASA and Congress and Lueders giving the program the firm hand on the tiller it needed, commercial crew began to prosper.
            The contributions of Elon Musk go without saying.
            Jim Bridenstine did a number of things that brought commercial crew home. First, he not only brought support for the program that hitherto had been lacking from the administrator’s position but downright enthusiasm. It didn’t hurt that he brought back deep space exploration in the form of Project Artemis and successfully sold Congress on the idea. The boost in morale at NASA and the fostering of support for both commercial crew and Artemis, which Bridenstine adroitly linked, is beyond evaluation.
            Finally, Bridenstine, at a crucial point, provided Elon Musk with some much-needed adult supervision. At one point, Musk seemed to have lost his focus on commercial crew as the vehicle that eventually became Starship began to be developed. Bridenstine reminded Musk of his obligations to NASA and the country. Musk too the hint and the rest is history.

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