Nasa’s former most senior female executive has accused the space agency of having a “male-dominated” culture, claiming she was subjected to physical threats, and called an “ugly whore” and a “motherf*****g bitch”.
Lori Garver, Nasa deputy administrator 2009 to 2013, also lambasted the agency for being initially reluctant to involve private firms such as SpaceX.
She criticised the cost of the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, which Nasa is developing to go back to the Moon, and called Nasa’s pledge to send a woman to the lunar surface a “marketing gimmick”.
In her book Escaping Gravity, Ms Garver, 61, wrote: “Many who disagreed with my views attacked me with vulgar, gendered language, depredation, and physical threats.
“I’ve been told I need to get laid, and asked if I’m on my period or going through menopause.”
Ms Garver, who joined Nasa in the 1990s, described the agency as “reminiscent of the forts boys built and filled with cigarettes and girlie magazines”.
She wrote that, when she was a junior official, a more senior Nasa figure called her into his office on her birthday and suggested giving her a “birthday spanking”.
Other women had also encountered “unwanted sexual advances and harassing behaviour,” she wrote.
Ms Garver said she had been attacked by politicians, the aerospace industry, and “hero astronauts” as she tried to promote private enterprise, which she believed would lead to innovation and reduce costs. She wrote that, after Elon Musk said that he could help “fix” Nasa, a politician involved with
the space agency “shouted at me to ‘get your boy Elon in line’”.
She said the cost of the SLS was ballooning due to entrenched interests.
Ms Garver wrote: “The Biden administration is now the third administration to ignore such realities, so the absurdity continues.” Nasa has so far not commented on the book.
Ms Garver praised Mr Musk, saying she would not have been able to make progress at Nasa without him.
In the book she also praised Jeff Bezos, and called Richard Branson the “most naturally charismatic of the billionaire space barons”.
Telegraph Media Group Limited