Deputy NASA administrator Lori Garver stepping down

Tuesday - 8/6/2013, 2:10pm EDT

NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver is stepping down from the space agency.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced in a note to staff Garver would leave next month to serve as the general manager of the Air Line Pilots Association, where she will oversee day-to-day operations of the largest union for pilots.

Lori Garver, deputy administrator, NASA

"I have had the pleasure and honor of working side by side with Lori for the past four years, as we sought to position the agency for 21st century spaceflight, scientific discovery and deep space exploration," Bolden said in a statement. "She has been an indispensable partner in our efforts to keep NASA on a trajectory of progress and innovation. In a time of great change and challenge, she has been a remarkable leader who has consistently shown great vision and commitment to NASA and the aerospace industry."

Garver has served in the No. 2 NASA role since July 2009. She previously served in a number of roles at the agency, including associate administrator for the Office of Policy and Plans between 1996 and 2001.

Garver has been instrumental in many of the Obama administration's space priorities, including a broad push to replace the space shuttle program with commercial spaceflight.

"We've been launching things into space for 50 years," Garver said in a May 2012 interview with Federal News Radio. "It's time we did trust our industry to be able to lead the way."

In a statement, John Holdren, director of the the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, praised Garver's tenure at the space agency.

"She ensured that U.S. taxpayers were getting the most for their money from NASA with innovative public-private partnerships in space and on Earth, and her focus on getting more women and other underrepresented groups engaged in science, technology, engineering, and math was just as important," he said in a statement.

RELATED STORIES:

NASA takes one giant leap into commerical space flight

Space station to get $18 million balloon-like room

NASA helps partners to meet a "Sputnik moment"