November 24, 2015

"During a panel discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations last Thursday, Garver recalled the attitude at NASA when Musk announced he was building his Falcon Heavy rocket, which would enable the private company to send missions beyond low-Earth orbit and into deep space."

ars technica “The NASA people would say, ‘Come on Lori, you’ve got to talk to Elon because we got out of low-Earth orbit. We’re giving him that, but you’ve got to get him out of long-term, deep space, because that’s ours,’” Garver recalled. by Eric Berger

'“I thought, fundamentally, you just don’t understand. We’re not in a race in a swimming pool where everyone is racing against one another. We’re in a cycling race where the government is riding point and the others are drafting behind us, and if someone comes alongside us and can pass us because they’ve found a better way, we don’t get out our tire pump and stick it between their spokes.”

'During her tenure as NASA’s deputy administrator, Garver made more than a few enemies in Congress and at NASA. She stepped on the toes of center directors. She got crosswise with the astronaut corps. And she didn’t always play nice with NASA’s traditional aerospace partners, who expected fat contracts from the space agency but also flexible deadlines.

'Garver noted that NASA’s Congressionally mandated Space Launch System, or SLS rocket, is being built by traditional contractors with traditional accounting measures. It's also powered by 1970s technology, space shuttle engines, and solid-rocket boosters. It is so expensive to build and fly that NASA can only afford to launch it about once every other year. None of it is reusable.

'Private rocket companies, meanwhile, are building modern engines—generally smaller and more efficient rockets—and making strides in efforts to recover and reuse their boosters. Their overarching goal is to reduce the cost of reaching space.'

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