Book - Diversion Books

Escaping Gravity: My Quest to Transform NASA and Launch a New Space Age

| June 2022

From the publisher of Escaping Gravity:

Escaping Gravity is former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver’s firsthand account of how a handful of revolutionaries overcame the political patronage and bureaucracy that threatened the space agency. The success of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, and countless other commercial space efforts were preceded by decades of work by a group of people Garver calls “space pirates.” Their quest to transform NASA put Garver in the crosshairs of Congress, the aerospace industry, and hero-astronauts trying to protect their own profits and mythology within a system that had held power since the 1950s.

As the head of the NASA transition team for President-elect Barack Obama and second-in-command of the agency, Garver drove policies and funding that enabled commercial competition just as the capabilities and resources of the private sector began to mature. She was determined to deliver more valuable programs, which required breaking the self-interested space-industrial cycle that, like the military, preferred to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on programs aimed to sustain jobs and contracts in key congressional districts. The result: more efficiency and greater progress.

Including insider NASA conversations and insights on how the US space industry has been transformed to become the envy of the world and is ushering in a new space age, Escaping Gravity offers a blueprint for how to drive productive and meaningful change.

Selected Reviews

"The recent progress of commercial space travel is the result of decades of work by many determined individuals and organizations. Lori’s compelling memoir, Escaping Gravity, captures what it means to use space exploration to transform and benefit humanity right here on Earth. The book gives us a behind-the-scenes look at how a band of dreamers defied gravity and the status quo to launch a new space age." —Richard Branson 

"In Escaping Gravity, Lori Garver, career champion of everything space, offers a front-row seat to the decades-long struggles within and among space bureaucrats and space billionaires. From presidents to heads of agencies to astronauts to key members of congress, she knew them all and they knew her — and they did not always see eye to eye. Bring popcorn as you bear witness an untold slice of space history. —Neil deGrasse Tyson, Astrophysicist, American Museum of Natural History

"Transformative change in government is often sought, but rarely achieved. In this revealing and personal book, Garver tells the fascinating story of how she helped a band of dreamers, rogue bureaucrats and billionaires usher in a new space age. —From the foreword by Walter Isaacson   

"In this personal, take-no-prisoners account, Lori Garver pulls back the curtain on the new space race, where political science joins rocket science to create today's critical mass. Buckle up for a revealing and fascinating ride!”  Lynn Sherr, author of Sally Ride: America's First Woman in Space  

"We are living at the most exciting time in space exploration since the Apollo era, in part because the world’s largest space agency, NASA, got around to trying something new, the funding of commercial crews. Lori Garver tells it like it is…or was for a woman effecting change at NASA despite men of the military industrial complex—and their cost-plus contracts. It wasn’t rocket science, it was much harder than that. Don’t take my word(s) for it; read this book." Bill Nye, CEO, The Planetary Society 

"Change is not easy – especially in fields that push the edges of our capabilities, come with high stakes and offer untold rewards.  But evolution demands embracing change whether in government or in the private sector.  Lori Garver’s gripping story reveals how a woman with a different background and perspective broke traditional barriers at NASA and within the space industry to beat both gravity and the status quo. " —Mae Jemison, MD, NASA Astronaut (ret.)

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Garver, Lori. Escaping Gravity: My Quest to Transform NASA and Launch a New Space Age . New York City: Diversion Books, June 2022.