When Lori Garver joined NASA in 1996, she was full of hope and enthusiasm but had no idea of the battle that lay ahead. Over the years, her passion for space exploration combined with her strong work ethic led her to take on increasingly senior posts and eventually become the agency’s second in command from 2009 to 2013 during the Obama administration. During this time, she spearheaded the transformation of the entrenched bureaucracy of NASA and brought the U.S. space program into the 21st century.
Garver and a like-minded team of unlikely revolutionaries, including Blue Origin Founder Jeff Bezos, Founder of the Virgin space companies Richard Branson, and Space X Founder Elon Musk, to create more innovative and less costly alternatives to space travel. Unfortunately, they encountered tremendous resistance to any disruption to the status quo from NASA leaders, politicians, and aerospace giants like Boeing and Lockheed Martin, both of which had a vested interest in keeping the focus on existing projects.
In her new book, Escaping Gravity: My Quest to Transform NASA and Launch a New Space Age, Garver details her uphill battle to change policies and reallocate funding toward more cost-effective and realistic commercial endeavors, rather than the $23+ billion Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule she fears will bankrupt the space program before it ever gets a single astronaut on the moon.
In this session, Garver will talk about how she collaborated with Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, and Elon Musk to transform NASA and lead the U.S. Space program into a new space age. Despite the setbacks she and her allies encountered, Garver remains hopeful about the future of NASA and the U.S. space industry.
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