The inside look at how the battle of the space billionaires began and why it matters, Escaping Gravity is former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver’s firsthand account of how a handful of revolutionaries outmaneuvered the system of political patronage and bureaucracy that threatened the space agency. The success of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and countless other commercial space efforts were preceded by decades of work by a group of people Garver calls “space pirates.”
As the head of the NASA transition team for President-elect Barack Obama and second-in-command of the agency, Garver drove policies and funding that enabled commercial competition just as the capabilities and resources of the private sector began to mature. She was determined to deliver more valuable programs, which required breaking the self-interested cycle controlled by Congress, the aerospace industry, entrenched bureaucrats, and hero-astronauts trying to protect their own profits and mythology.
Garver reveals how—like the military—the space industrial establishment preferred to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on programs aimed to sustain jobs and contracts in key congressional districts over those that were more efficient and could deliver greater progress. Garver details how her quest to transform NASA put her in the crosshairs of these established, powerful interests who viewed her as a threat to the system that has centralized and controlled power since the 1950s.
Including insider NASA conversations and insights on the epic battles that transitioned space access to private resources for a fraction of the cost, Escaping Gravity offers a blueprint for how to drive productive and meaningful government change.
Private Allies and Public Adversaries
Everyone loves a David and Goliath story, and this is one the greatest non-fiction accounts in history. While SpaceX is deservedly praised for its accomplishments, it is invigorating to hear the accounts of an unsung hero. Former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver pulls no punches while proclaiming her support for SpaceX and the embattled Commercial Crew Program.
To the uninitiated, the entire story might come off as a sci-fi space opera full eccentric billionaires, powerful bureaucrats, and an industry with a dysfunctional status quo.