NEW ORLEANS - NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver toured the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans East with the agency's $18 billion budget on her mind, especially ways to limit the impact of the so-called "sequester."
"Sequester is a big problem, there's no question," said Garver. "Our '13 budget almost a billion dollar cut by Congress is something that we're going to have to turn around in '14."
The old days when NASA needed the entire Michoud facility to build the huge Saturn 5 rockets for the Apollo program, and the External Tanks for the Space Shuttle program, well, those are long gone now. They don't need all the space now, so they're happy to make a little money by renting out the unused space.
"NASA is really recognizing that our programs will be less costly if we're able to share infrastructure costs," said Garver.
NASA needs about half of the space in 36 buildings on the 800 acre site. They've been aggressively working to rent out the rest, and they're having success.
"We share with other government tenants, as well as private sector tenants, and a lot of those capabilities that we can develop here are also going to help the local economy," said Garver.
"Our long term vision is this is going to be a very, very busy place with lots of tenants here. We've just got to start getting some of them in, and we're courting," said Michoud Director Roy Malone. "We've got lots of prospects right now."
But there is unused space at Michoud, so the "number two" at NASA became chief rental agent.
"Let's be clear," said Garver. "We still have 20 percent available for the private sector, if anyone would like to utilize our facility. We've got some great capabilities here."