Hello Reddit! My name is Lori Garver. I am the NASA Deputy Administrator, which means I'm the second in command of the US space agency. I'm here in Wallops Island, Virginia today to view our planned launch of a new rocket. I’m looking forward to trying to answer your questions about anything... about our mission today... about our mission we just announced to an asteroid, our astronauts on the International Space Station... or anything else about NASA that interests you! (I’ll start by saying: No, we don't have little green men hidden at Area 51 or anywhere else...that I know of; and yes, we did land on the Moon). To provide proof of who I am, here's a picture of me standing in front of my office at NASA Headquarters: https://twitter.com/Lori_Garver/status/324548705007050753 Ask away!

Update: Thanks for joining me today. It was a lot of fun. My 21 year old son has been after me to do this for about a year and it was fun making the NASA communications office nervous! Now that I know how this works, I can’t wait to be back!

Comments: 1523 • Responses: 23  • Date: 

MrGibbage1320 karma

Please convince more astronauts to take advantage of social media, like CDR Hadfield. He has almost 700,000 followers on twitter. Americans LOVE the space program, and we want to hear about every nuance of it every day. This, to me, is a HUGE, HUGE part of the mission.

LoriGarver992 karma

Yes - agree. CDR Hadfield has done an amazing job - as have Mike Massimino... and Ron Garan -- @Astro_Mike with over a million followers on Twitter and Ron with several million on Google+. I only have 30K followers. Can you all help me out?

Shane112358631 karma


LoriGarver454 karma

The asteroid mission is officially proposed by the President of the United States of America, who was officially elected by the citizens of the United States of America - that is pretty official. We are working to get approval from Congress for this particular part of the budget, but we have been working on it for several years and believe it really is an amazing challenge that can utilize so much of our amazing capability. Asteroids are so critical to life on this planet and to future space development - being able to actually go to one in about 10 years is a huge challenge that can unite our human spaceflight, science and technology goals. Please don’t be frustrated - this is amazing.

trees_at_school296 karma

Is the President the best person to be proposing missions. Wouldn't it be better to have someone more knowledgable in the field doing it?

LoriGarver951 karma

We have a nice history of this in this country (think JFK, 1961). Obviously NASA works for the President and he/she takes NASA’s advice very seriously. Too bad he didn’t take our advice on the Death Star...

Shane112358268 karma


LoriGarver160 karma

Our clear next step is an asteroid and it has been for three years. Of course this program drives hardware development, architecture development and requirements. I do hope we use EVA suits - since we are still looking at concepts where the astronauts could do spacewalks to the asteroid. If we don’t start learning to live and work in deep space in a step by step approach, we will never go. We are developing a 21st century space program.

thewebpro358 karma

Thank you for doing this AMA. If funding for NASA doubled from the current allotted budget, how would you expect this to affect current and future missions over the next 10 to 20 years?

LoriGarver552 karma

Our $17B budget is more than all other countries space budgets on the planet combined. By working with private industry and other countries, we multiply what we can get done already. Maybe if some of you run for Congress in the future you can vote to double the NASA budget.

loonunit228 karma

I believe the question is a what-if? What if the US government doubled the NASA budget overnight? Okay, that's not likely to happen, but what if? How would you prioritize spending more money, if you had it?

And, yes, it's a fantasy question, but I don't view it as a complete waste of time to answer it---because NASA had far more money in real dollars during the 1960s. True, the political climate has changed dramatically. But if it changed again, in a way that benefited NASA: what would you do that you can't do now?

LoriGarver460 karma

OK - so my public affairs folks would suggest you ask Neil deGrasse Tyson to answer that question. I must live in the reality of our budget request :)

SirHiss182 karma

What do you feel is the current biggest technological hindrance to space/planets exploration?

LoriGarver318 karma

Affordable access to space! We have to lower the cost to get off the planet so that we can make more discoveries and go farther. We are on track to do that and it is one of the reasons I am so excited for this afternoon’s launch of Antares!

SomeSillyQuestions169 karma

In 2017, within months of each other, Cassini will descend into Saturn's atmosphere and Juno will be de-orbited by a crash into Jupiter marking the first time since the '70s without an active NASA mission to the planets beyond the asteroid belt. When can we expect NASA to return to the outer planets?

LoriGarver242 karma

New Horizons is on its way to Pluto and future Discovery missions and Flagship missions are yet to come.

CuriousMetaphor142 karma

Will NASA be supporting Dennis Tito's Inspiration Mars 2018 mission in any way?

LoriGarver200 karma

We have a space act agreement with them and we are excited to help them out.

loonunit124 karma

Hi Ms. Garver. I have a question about the recent decision to immediately cut all NASA-funded STEM education and public outreach in response to the US government sequestion. Given that EPO is a fraction of the money NASA spends, yet is the primary method in which the US public connects with the overarching NASA mission, I was wondering how/why this decision was arrived at?

And now that a budget has been passed, is there any hope for this decision to be reversed?

LoriGarver124 karma

No one inspires more people to enter STEM fields than NASA and our missions will continue to inspire. We have not stopped doing education and outreach - but we do need to do it more efficiently. As we work with a broader array of organizations who do STEM education, our amazing discoveries will have an either broader reach.

topwing120 karma


LoriGarver141 karma

We are in the final stages of an astronaut selection right now. Last I heard we had narrowed the field to about 50 finalists. We will select about 10-15 and we should be making that announcement in the next month. Keep an eye on http://astronauts.nasa.gov for the announcement for the next round of applications.

preggit113 karma

What future mission are you most excited for?

What's something you can share with us that the average person may not know or realize?

LoriGarver289 karma

JWST is the mission I am most excited for - I’m told that within the first 6 months of operations, it will likely view the first blue planet orbiting a distant star. Increasing the awesome!

Wommie112 karma

Why is everything Mars, Mars, Mars. When are you going to give the other planets some lovin'.

LoriGarver196 karma

We have sent robots to every planet... the most to good old planet Earth! But Mars is the most likely other planet where humans can go and since we are human... we seem to focus on that. I was always fond of Pluto too and we have a spacecraft headed there - even though it is technically no longer a planet!

Osven81 karma

Can you share a little bit about how you'd like to see COTS and CCDEV evolve moving forward? I think Reddit would love to hear your perspective on how NASA and commercial companies can work together to enable exploration.

Also, jealous of your view of tonight's launch, assuming you're traveling out to Wallops!

LoriGarver102 karma

Oh yea - I am at Wallops and can’t wait for the launch. Without a successful COTS/CCDEV program, we’ll be unable to go farther, beyond ISS to an asteroid and to Mars. PLUS - those programs will help lower the cost of launching our science missions, so we can do more planetary missions like we have been talking about. PLUS - those lower costs will allow the US to win back commercial satellite launches, which will help our economy.

EIros75 karma

NASA has a history of taking young engineers and putting them in big shoes, particularly in the early Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. As a soon to be graduate, what will the near future job outlook be like at NASA?

LoriGarver126 karma

We need more young engineers and scientists and yes, we have some big shoes for them to fill... I hope many of them will be wearing heels! If you come to the agency today, you can help us make advances that will transform humanity benefit the future of civilization. Join us: http://nasajobs.nasa.gov/

jaybo526373 karma

Realistically how long will it be until humans can have a permanent residence on the moon similar to the ISS? Thanks for doing this AMA

LoriGarver178 karma

If we can reduce the costs of infrastructure and operations, it could be soon - decade or two. Again, NASA’s job is to drive the technology and go further - private sector comes in to set up “permanent residence”... think Columbus vs. the Pilgrims.

J_Sass73 karma

If NASA had unlimited funding, what would be the first three missions you would go on?

LoriGarver130 karma

I personally always wanted to walk on the Moon. I was 8 years old when I watched Buzz and Neil on the Moon, so I always thought I would get to go (plus there have not been any women yet). But if I get three missions - will go beyond the Moon to an asteroid and then to Mars... a girl can dream!

PlanetaryScientist60 karma

Dear Ms. Garver,

Thank you for your time and doing this AMA session. We appreciate the work you do for NASA.

As a young planetary scientist, it distresses me and my colleagues to see NASA's reluctance to place planetary science as high priority for the agency. Our program has achieved tremendous successes in science and exploration recently, from the Curiosity rover to Cassini's continued exploration of Saturn.

Though your agency may state otherwise, it is evident from the President's FY14 budget request, however, that NASA continues to treat the planetary science program as the first place to cut when times are tough, despite our success and impact (when else are you going to see Times Square stand still from a Martian rover landing??). This is in spite of continued, bipartisan support for planetary science and exploration from Congress, who generously restored some funding for our program recently from last year's budget request.

It is unfortunate that Administrator Bolden has flatly stated that we won't be going back to the Moon anytime soon, nor do we have funds to support an outer planet flagship mission to Europa, a tantalizing target for life outside our Earth. This lack of bold vision speaks volumes, and closes off pathways for careers for me and my fellow early career scientists.

Thus, I respectfully ask, how can NASA continue to deny prioritizing such a successful program?

LoriGarver58 karma

NASA’s ‘14 request for planetary science is $25M more than last year’s request... more than $1.2B. Overall, science is nearly $5B - and we need to balance between programs. We continue to have THE BEST planetary science programs on the planet. I think Americans will go back to the Moon - the private sector has plans to send people and NASA will definitely be a part of lunar exploration in the future.

wooslers245 karma

What is NASA doing to address the shortage of plutonium 238 used to power missions such as the Curiosity rover and Voyager deep space probes? Are there any alternatives to radioisotope generators that can be pursued?

LoriGarver87 karma

We just requested $65M in our ‘14 budget for plutonium 238. If our budget for this is approved, we will be in good shape.

oceanbluesky44 karma

Do you like NASA Watch, even if they are borderline crankish and pathologically short fused?

LoriGarver63 karma

I like that anyone can learn about and comment on space issues. I work for the public and I love hearing from the public. Plus, who doesn’t like a bit of gossip now and then?

Xilith11737 karma

Have you ever wanted to go into space?

LoriGarver93 karma

Google astromom and you will read about my quest to go to space about 12 years ago. I even had my gall bladder removed in order to qualify for the flight!

linkrobin35 karma

What new projects should we be excited for in the near future?

LoriGarver61 karma

We have an incredibly creative mission to capture, relocate and explore an asteroid that can teach us more about how asteroids have “impacted” our planet and life on it in the past and likely will again. Also - for long term space development, we are going to have to learn how to utilize space resources. Asteroids are an incredible resource ... material that we won’t have to launch from Earth. I honestly believe we will do this mission successfully by 2025.

GalileoGalilei201224 karma

Hello! Big time space program fanatic here. What are your thoughts on independent space programs? Do you see any independent entities becoming as capable of space ventures as NASA in the future? edit:grammar

LoriGarver35 karma

We are working with lots of independent entities. NASA has always partnered with US industry and they are getting more and more capable. As NASA drives technology further, we are helping industry carry out more and more missions that we used to do.