WASHINGTON — NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver says she is baffled that congressional resistance to the agency’s commercial crew and cargo programs persists in the wake of Space Exploration Technology’s two successful resupply flights to the international space station.

“We are not communicating this well,” Garver told members of the NASA Advisory Council’s Commercial Space Committee during a Nov. 26 meeting at NASA headquarters here. “I can’t believe we’re losing this argument. How can we be losing this argument?”

Members of NASA’s congressional oversight committees have questioned NASA’s plans to outsource space station logistics to private operators since 2006, when the agency began the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program to subsidize development of privately owned cargo systems.

But with pressure on to reduce federal spending, Garver said NASA’s commercial crew and cargo programs offer the best prospect for the near-term budget relief that NASA needs to embark on crewed missions beyond low Earth orbit.

“Our commercial programs are what allow NASA to return the best value to the taxpayer,” Garver said.



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Dan Leone is the NASA reporter for SpaceNews, where he also covers other civilian-run U.S. government space programs and a growing number of entrepreneurial space companies. He joined SpaceNews in 2011.Dan earned a bachelor's degree in public communications...