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Guest: Lori Garver; Topic: Lori talked about her new book, Escaping Gravity: My Quest to Transform NASA and Launch a New Space Age. In addition, listeners asked her many space policy and business questions in addition to her book commentary.
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We welcomed Lori Garver to The Space Show to discuss her new book, Escaping Gravity: My Quest to Transform NASA and Launch a New Space Age. In addition, Lori responded to multiple space policy, commercial space and engineering questions from the listeners. Our guest started out with a short introduction to her background and how she got her interest in space, specifically commercial space. Lori talked about the L5 Society and NSS vision having a big impact on her, along with Dan Goldin back in 1996. Early on she knew the value of forward thinking NASA leadership. After her introduction, we jumped right into her book and today's space issues.
First up was the SLS which Lori said she opposed and that she was disappointed that it could not be stopped. SLS was an important part of our discussion and in my opinion, a big part of the experiences she wrote about in her book. Lori's SLS comments were here and there throughout most of this interview so do pay attention for them to get her complete SLS story and perspective. It seems like today one cannot talk SLS without mentioning the capabilities and lower costs regarding the SpaceX Starship. Don't miss what she said about Starship in comparison to SLS. Note that she mentioned that today NASA leadership was not up to retiring out SLS but like so many others, Lori suggested that a successful Starship might make it very difficult for SLS to continue.
Throughout our program China and both their general space program and lunar plans came up. Lori mentioned the Wolf Amendment from Congress that prevents US officials from talking space and other matters with China. She told has former Administrator Bolden opposed the Amendment. Listen to how she explained it. One thing that caught my attention was her comment that to advance and innovate competition was key. That would include competition with China. Later, Lori commented that for SLS and Orion it was very difficult and challenging to compete with SpaceX.
Lori was asked her opinion on the importance of having support from the general public and was there a way to what percentage of the general public was needed for support with space policy. This led to the discussion of what she referenced was the billionaire backlash and the misinformation about the billionaires in space, space tourism, how they spent their money, even damage done to the environment due to rocket launches. Once again she brought up the importance of leadership. Lori cited private efforts with the government for moving things forward. She made it clear she did not favor policies that limited innovation.
The subject of women in space and in NASA leadership roles came up. I mentioned the increase in women in science and engineering that I had noticed over the 21 years of doing Space Show interviews. I even suggested that more than 50% of my interviews are now with women though I don't track guests by political party, sex, race or anything like that. This is a very important issue and concern for Lori so once again, don't miss her commentary on the subject.
Bob in Denver sent in a question about space settlement and asked Lori if it should be part of our national space policy. Lori had much to say in response to this question and as to space settlement being part of our space policy. This discussion led her to mention climate change and space policy and focus. I asked Lori about so many space organizations and advocates saying we needed to go to space to save humanity or something like that. I even told her similar language was in Space Show vision and mission statements. I wanted her opinion on these kinds of statements being an exaggeration or did she think space really could save the world. Lori said words to the effect that space offers humanity survival over the long time. Listen up for her precise response as I think you will want to remember it and possibly use it yourself. I will.
Group think and the risks it poses was another important subject addressed by Lori. It was mentioned in the book but not by the term group think. She said it stymies innovation. She went into the history of group think which was very interesting as I had not heard a group think history review before. What do you think of her group think comments? Please put your thoughts on our blog. Following group think, listener Sally asked if we had had women leading the US and NASA, would we have had radically different outcomes landing us in a very different place than where we are today. Lori did give a very interesting response to this question but listen to her to get that response. You don't want to miss it.
China and Russia came up again and our guest said it was gaslighting. She listed some examples, one being commercial crew and another from President Regan threatening the status quo. Moving on, she said the aerospace industry was scrambling to figure out how to compete with SpaceX. Listener Beth then sent in a note asking Lori for her own five and ten year plan. Next, Lori was asked by a different listener about her perspective on space property rights. She said she has always been supportive of property rights dating back to the L5 Society. She talked about the previous National Space Council headed by Dr. Scott Pace and being in sync with him on this and other issues. Following property rights, Henry in NYC asked about space as a global commons. She suggested that perspective was not compatible with commercial space and other views she talked about in the book or during this interview.
Near the end of the program I asked Lori for a summary or takeaways from our discussion. I took a last listener question asking if she would like to return to NASA. Her detailed answer might surprise you so listen to it as the program came to a close. I don't want to give away how she responded to this question.
Please post your comments/questions for Lori Garver on our blog for this show. You can reach Lori through me or her website that she gave out during the program, www.lorigarver.com. Special thanks to Lori for talking with The Space Show about her new book. Remember listeners, if you purchase it through Amazon, do it with the OGLF portal off our home page or the Amazon Smile nonprofit program as Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price to OGLF.