• Escaping Gravity

  • My Quest to Transform NASA and Launch a New Space Age
  • By: Lori Garver
  • Narrated by: Lori Garver
  • Length: 10 hrs and 53 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (150 ratings)

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Escaping Gravity  By  cover art

Escaping Gravity

By: Lori Garver
Narrated by: Lori Garver
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Publisher's Summary

The inside look at how the battle of the space billionaires began and why it matters, Escaping Gravity is former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver’s firsthand account of how a handful of revolutionaries outmaneuvered the system of political patronage and bureaucracy that threatened the space agency. The success of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’s 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.” 

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 cycle controlled by Congress, the aerospace industry, entrenched bureaucrats, and hero-astronauts trying to protect their own profits and mythology. 

Garver reveals how—like the military—the space industrial establishment preferred to spend billions of taxpayer dollars on programs aimed to sustain jobs and contracts in key congressional districts over those that were more efficient and could deliver greater progress. Garver details how her quest to transform NASA put her in the crosshairs of these established, powerful interests who viewed her as a threat to the system that has centralized and controlled power since the 1950s.

Including insider NASA conversations and insights on the epic battles that transitioned space access to private resources for a fraction of the cost, Escaping Gravity offers a blueprint for how to drive productive and meaningful government change.

©2022 Lori Garver (P)2022 Blackstone Publishing

What listeners say about Escaping Gravity

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Political Agenda!

I felt like this was more about the Democatic party than about space. I tolerated this until she started talking about how she supported the most corrupt politician ever. If you guessed Hilary Clinton, you would be correct! Save your money.

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The politics and boys club of space exploration

Lori’s recounting of her time and general history of American space exploration is an interesting listen if repetitive only because of politicians, men, and government constantly getting in the way of true progress and collaboration among women, private sectors, and the world at large. I think it could be easy to give this book 3 stars if you felt Lori is jaded or bitter but her stories and the eventual misogyny and right to left thinking in government would make anyone affected pissed. I genuinely felt disdain for so many people she was forced to interact with and had to give 4 stars if only for keeping her shit together all these years and during the reading of this book. You can hear the joy and passion in her voice when she talks about space exploration, as well as the stifled frustration and unfortunate smile through it all armor.

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The struggle between entrenched ways and new ideas

Well read by the author and very engaging. The story of her career also covers the changes to how we get to space and her drive to see that happen. We'll worth the time.

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Awesome!!

I could never imagine a book about the policy, even space policy, could be so interesting. Everything is there, politics, politicians, space race, science, technology, gender and minority rights, past, present, future. Loved the book!

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interesting look at the self-licking ice cream con

This book is NOT about NASA and its achievements. It's NOT about technology at all. Lori was one of the folks that headed the transformation of NASA ... trying to break what she has called the "self-licking ice cream cone" that is the interplay between politics (jobs), the military industrial complex (making easy money) and the entrenched NASA bureaucracy dominated by the cup boys (aka ex macho military).

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Sunlight powers us upward

For current and aspiring leaders in the space field, this is required reading. Whether you agree with Lori or not, you need to grasp this view of the world you hope to lead.

Not only is sunlight a great disinfectant, it is also the source of all our energy. We need it in both uses, and this book taps into both.

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Starts out great

First sections are great then it complains in the rest of the book; however, if you want to hear Lori's view of NASA, would highly recommend it

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An important story, well told!

Ms. Garver has done a great service by telling an important story about how Washington actually works and the negative impact that has had on our Nation's space program from Apollo on, Those of us who have worked for NASA in DC know this story. But most people do not. Lori Garver does a great job in telling this story as well as in narrating the book. It is not an easy story to tell. The easy path is the traditional one, involving cultural tropes, male hero astronauts, and government contracting profits. But Ms. Garver does a great job in telling this story. And from her years on the front lines of space "activism" to her eventual position as NASA Deputy Administrator she is a great person to tell it.

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Behind the curtain

Ms. Garver’s book pulled me into the offices and personnel of NASA as I have never encountered. The best and the worst of human behavior comes out in these pages, and it was quite illuminating.

The honest appraisal of her time at NASA includes her own accomplishments, and her own perceived failures, and is a moving portrayal of her time as second in command during a critical time in the history of NASA.

This book will appeal to anyone that likes a good non-fiction book, no space knowledge needed going in. However, for nerds like me who love space, I feel it is eye-opening and inspiring.

Lori Garver is a hero.

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Excellent book

Great book and audio performance. Fascinating story behind one of NASA’s great achievements - helping the private sector (especially SpaceX) make quantum advancements in rocket/space technology. It’s also a sobering story about how malign forces (politics, inertia, sexism, egos, etc.) can impede the functioning of our governmental organizations.

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  • Carl
  • 07-01-22

A boring attempt to have the last word

A few interesting bits about the space program early on, but mostly just a flattering of old friends and a hit piece on enemies and ex-colleagues. The author aims to get the last word in old, petty arguments that no one else remembers or cares about. She takes credit for everything good that happened and blames others for the failures. A superb example of self indulgence and self rationalization. The book got worse as it went on, and is almost unfinishable as the author wandered well off base into social issues and political axe grinding. if you want a book about NASA or the space program, there are a lot better ones.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Dermot
  • 06-28-22

Full of thinly veiled partisan identity politics

This is typical contemporary partisan politics and self-promotion. Pretty disgusting, when you're expecting a book about high-minded service to all of humanity.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Martin Spedding
  • 09-26-22

Fascinating to hear the politics and the fight

Enjoyed hearing the fight required to move NASA forward. Sad to hear how for some politicians and companies profit was more important than success

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  • J. S. Anderson
  • 09-19-22

Disappointing !

This was a severe disappointment. Too much a tale of herself , the story seems to be a reverse history revision where she saw things happening that could not have been obvious at the time. Very partisan in discussing former administrators and the aerospace companies - who employ thousands of hard working Americans and paid her salary via their taxes while at Nasa. One last thing - usually narration by the author adds to the performance - not in this case. - she has not the voice for this - hopefully her last effort.

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  • Sean Watson
  • 09-13-22

Wonderful wonderful book! honest and enthralling

What's a wonderful and interesting book. Lori does an amazing job of showing you NASA from another point of view. cannot recommend enough

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  • Gavin U
  • 07-28-22

A fantastic honest and uplifting memoir

This book was really enjoyable to read from and information point of view and historically. It is sad to read how people have resisted change and the slow down that bureaucracy has caused. It is really disappointing that for so many years since Apollo we have done so little due to this. However it is really very uplifting to see where we are now and where we are going.

A thoroughly enjoyable read that left me with a greater understanding of more recent space history.

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  • andrew william jones
  • 07-15-22

A must-read

Fascinating insights into the culture at NASA and recent changes. Essential reading for those interested or involved in the space sector.

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  • aeroroar
  • 06-16-22

Top insight into the last 30y of space industry

Rocket science is mostly about controlled chemical explosions, this book is mostly about controlled political explosions! Lori Garver gives an excellent reading of her own book, lending an additional power and authenticity to what she has put down
on paper. And there are plenty of candid descriptions of major figures past and present.

Recommended for anyone at all interested in the development of the space industry
over the past 30+ years.

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  • Natalie Jane Fontaine
  • 06-22-22

Lori fighting the corruption of self interest

It was great to listen to Lori's very well self narrated book on her attempts to fight the self interests of the space industrial complex. While she was also up against people that just feared change, I commend her for trying to change the status quo, especially given the inevitable backlash