Lori Garver, who championed a prominent role for the commercial sector in the future of U. S. human space exploration, will leave her post as NASA’s deputy administrator on Sept. 6.
Garver, who served in the role for four years, will join the Air Line Pilots Association as general manager.
Praise for Garver’s enthusiasm for commercial space and her support for NASA’s proposed Asteroid Retrieval Mission surfaced quickly in the aftermath of a formal announcement of her NASA departure.
“I have had the pleasure and honor of working side by side with Lori for the past four years, as we sought to position the agency for 21st century spaceflight, scientific discovery and deep space exploration,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “She has been an indispensable partner in our efforts to keep NASA on a trajectory of progress and innovation. In a time of great change and challenge, she has been a remarkable leader who has consistently shown great vision and commitment to NASA and the aerospace industry.”
“On behalf of President Obama, as well as myself, I want to thank Lori for her leadership, dedication, and work on behalf of the American people, and wish her all the best in future endeavors,” said John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
“Lori Garver has worked tirelessly in support of this administration’s aerospace priorities, from human space exploration and technology development to Earth science and aeronautics research,” added Holdren. “She ensured that U. S. taxpayers were getting the most for their money from NASA with innovative public-private partnerships in space and on Earth, and her focus on getting more women and other underrepresented groups engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math was just as important.”
Garver announced her departure by social media, stating to her Facebook followers:
“As you can imagine, leaving the team of incredibly talented professionals at NASA isn’t easy to do,” said Garver. “NASA is a very special place, and what we do helps make the world a better place.”
Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot, the agency’s No. 3 manager and top-ranking civil servant, is a likely possibility to fill Garver’s post on an acting basis until the White House can nominate another political appointee, according to Aviation Week & Space Technology, the airspace industry publication.
The job requires a Presidential nomination, and confirmation by the U. S. Senate.
Among those praising Garver’s efforts was Mike Lopez-Alegria, the former NASA astronaut, and president of the Washington-based Commercial Spaceflight Federation.
“Throughout her years of service and leadership at NASA, Lori Garver has been a stalwart champion of commercial space and of the public-private partnerships that have begun to change the way the Agency does business,” said Lopez-Alegria.