Editor’s note: As expected, NASA put out an announcement Aug. 6. on NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver‘s announced departure. Statements from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and White House science adviser John Holdren have been added to the bottom of this article.

WASHINGTON — NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver is stepping down Sept. 6 to take the top staff job at the Washington-based Air Line Pilots Association, SpaceNews has confirmed. A formal announcement is expected Aug. 6.

Garver informed colleagues of her decision in an Aug. 5 email. “After quite an extensive decision process, I have decided to make a career change. I will be resigning from my position as NASA Deputy Administrator, effective September 6 and have accepted a new position in the private sector outside the space industry,” Garver wrote. “NASA will be sending out a formal announcement tomorrow with all the details. It has been great working with you all these years and I’m sure that our paths will continue to cross.”

Garver, who has served as NASA’s No. 2 official since July 2009, has spent most of her career working on space policy. She came to Washington in 1983 to work for then-U.S. Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), the first American astronaut to orbit the Earth. After Glenn’s failed 1984 presidential bid, Garver went to work for the National Space Society, rising to executive director, a job she held until joining NASA in 1996 as a policy adviser to then-NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin.

After George W. Bush took office in 2001, Garver left NASA for the private sector, advising Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and the Planetary Society, among others, as a vice president at the Washington-based consulting firm DFI International (since renamed Avascent Group).

Garver served as the lead civil space adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign as well as Hillary Clinton’s 2008 run. When Barack Obama defeated Clinton in the Democratic primary, Garver switched camps and went on to lead Obama Presidential Transition Agency Review Team for NASA.

President Obama nominated Garver and NASA Administrator Charles Bolden as a package in May 2009. A joint confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee followed on July 8.

Nine days later, Garver and Bolden were sworn in together in a low-key ceremony at NASA headquarters here.

Garver is the fourth longest-serving NASA deputy administrator, behind Hugh Dryden, George Low and Alan Lovelace.

As deputy, Garver championed various space privatization efforts, including the agency’s Commercial Crew program.

“It will be years before it is known what Lori did to help hold the ship of NASA together and point it away from the past,” longtime space entrepreneur Dennis Wingo commented on NASAWatch.com, which first reported that Garver will be stepping down.

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Statements on NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver’s Announced Departure


The following are statements from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren about NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver’s announced departure from the agency, effective Sept. 6.


NASA Administrator Charles Bolden:

“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.  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.  


“Lori has led the way on so many of the Obama Administration’s space priorities, including our commercial crew and cargo program, the re-establishment of a space technology mission directorate, our use of challenges and prizes, and our unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion.  As one of only a few top women leaders in the aerospace industry, she has been an extraordinary role model for young girls, inspiring them to study science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and pursue their dreams in space and here on Earth. 


“Lori will always be a great friend to me and to our agency.”


Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren:

“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. 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.


“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.”

Brian Berger is editor in chief of SpaceNews.com and the SpaceNews magazine. He joined SpaceNews.com in 1998, spending his first decade with the publication covering NASA. His reporting on the 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia accident was...