Garver: "We Knew That Change Would Be Difficult"

Garver: "We Knew That Change Would Be Difficult"

Speaking at a heavily attended breakfast meeting of Women in Aerospace, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver projected confidence that as NASA continues to communicate with Congress about the change proposed in the FY2011 budget request they will see that it is “a good plan.”

“The President took on the status quo with his eyes wide open,” knowing that change always is difficult. He was willing to do that, she said, because of the importance he ascribes to NASA and the need for a “sustainable and affordable” way for the space program to move forward. Noting that the 5-year budget allocates $100 billion for NASA, she said President Obama “feels we can do better” and NASA is important enough to fight the battle. She stressed that the country’s elected leaders are making the decisions, starting with the President, and now Congress will evaluate his proposal.

She outlined the increases that the budget proposes for science, aeronautics, technology development, and education, but focused on the proposed cancellation of the Constellation program. Praising the Constellation workforce, she said that the Obama Administration had inherited a “system that made no sense to continue.” The Augustine Committee’s finding that NASA’s budget needed to increase by $3 billion for a successful human space flight program was not for continuing Constellation. She said keeping Constellation on a reasonable schedule would cost $5 billion more a year and the money just is not there. If Congress insists that Constellation continue, she asked, what will be cancelled in order to make that funding available?

In response to a question about how much it would cost to keep the space shuttle flying, she said that when she arrived at NASA she was told that the time to make such a decision already had passed so they had not looked at how much it would cost.

She emphasized that the commercial crew proposal is for “all our partners” in COTS, CCDEV, and Constellation. The main difference is that NASA will “loosen our grip a bit” through a different procurement mechanism than traditional programs like Constellation.

“This matters,” she said, calling on the aerospace community to “come together and work toward a common ground.”


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