Taxpayers fleeced: Ex-Vize heavily criticizes NASA and US politics

The ex-deputy head of NASA has massively criticized the US space agency, industry and politics for dealing with taxpayers’ money and resistance to the private space industry. In a book, Lori Garver accuses Boeing and Lockheed Martin of “greedily” pushing NASA and the US Congress into the tens of billions of dollars in SLS rocket programs, Politico quotes as saying. NASA fears that this could bankrupt NASA before humans ever fly to the moon again. She accuses her former boss Charles Bolden of leadership failure. But she reserved the harshest criticism for former US Senator Bill Nelson. If he and Bolden had prevailed, they would still be dependent on Russia to get people to the ISS, she says. When she was almost finished with the book, Nelson became the new NASA boss.

Garver became deputy chief of NASA in 2009, a position she held until 2013. During her tenure, NASA ended the billion-dollar Constellation program that was supposed to follow the Space Shuttle program. At that time, the USA relied on the Space Launch System, the rocket has still not taken off more than ten years later. At the same time, the Commercial Crew Program was launched, which resulted in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon space capsule. People can now fly into space again from the USA. In her book, Garver claims there was immense opposition to the program. They were led by the same Bill Nelson, who is now adorning himself with the successes.

In her book, Garver accuses MPs from both major US parties of putting their own interests ahead of NASA’s. The criticism is not new, it has long been obvious that the Senate, for example, is satisfied when NASA works and spends money. It is relatively irrelevant whether it will eventually arrive somewhere. Garver now confirms this from the inside. Nelson, of Florida — home of the Kennedy Space Center — and his colleague Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas — home of the Johnson Space Center in Houston — “forced” NASA to launch the SLS program, Garver said. This is currently years behind schedule and has already cost US taxpayers billions.

According to Politico Garver has been criticizing the giant SLS rocket for years, calling it the “Senate Launch System”. The rocket completed an important test a few days ago, and it is still unclear when it will be able to launch for the first time. A launch costs more than four billion US dollars. Unlike the program to develop private space capsules, the program is “absurd” and with the Biden government, the third government is already ignoring such realities and sticking to them. If Nelson had his way, NASA would now be alone with the unfinished rocket and still couldn’t send people to the ISS without Russia, claims Garver, who works extensively on him. He is a lifetime politician and best known for his tax-financed space shuttle flight in 1986. Its pilot at the time was Charles Bolden.

The giant rocket in the assembly building
(Image: NASA)

Garver finds much more positive words in her book for the billionaires who are trying to revolutionize space travel. Without Elon Musk she would never have been able to implement the changes she initiated at NASA, she praises the SpaceX boss. Talking to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is like talking to an old friend, the Blue Origin boss is “relaxed, inquisitive and funny.” Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson is the “most unabashedly charismatic of the billionaire space barons.” Whether we like them as individuals doesn’t matter. They obeyed the law and invested their money in space travel, although they could also do completely different things with it. Things weren’t so nice at NASA itself, on the other hand, they got all the misogynist insults you can imagine.


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