Doug Loverro Resigns, Ken Bowersox to be Acting Human Exploration Lead

Pablo Tucker
May 20, 2020

SpaceX and NASA are eight days away from the first astronaut launch on USA soil in almost a decade.

Loverro, who came to NASA in October 2019, would have presided over the Flight Readiness Review - an important safety check scheduled for later this week to get ready for the planned May 27 launch that will send two NASA astronauts on a brief journey to the worldwide space station.

"Doug hit the ground running this year and has made significant progress in his time at NASA", the note from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. His leadership of [Human Exploration and Operations] has moved us closer to accomplishing our goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024. Loverro has dedicated plus more than four decades of his life serving our country, and we thank him for his service and contributions to the agency.

The announcement comes just eight days before SpaceX attempts to launch its first astronauts under NASA's commercial crew program. "I want to be clear that the fact that I am taking this step has nothing to do with your performance as an organization nor with the plans we have placed in motion to fulfill our mission", Loverro wrote.

"Eric Berger speculates ".his departure does not seem to be directly related to his work on Crew Dragon.

Loverro became NASA's associate administrator for human exploration and operations last December, and was playing a leading role in NASA's Artemis moon program as well as preparations for next week's launch of a SpaceX Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station. "He is an accomplished astronaut and veteran of five space shuttle missions and a commander on the International Space Station". Vice President Mike Pence threatened a year ago that if NASA fails to make it happen by 2024, the Trump administration will "change the organisation, not the mission".

"I took such a risk earlier in the year because I judged it necessary to fulfil our mission".

The immediate effect of Loverro's departure is hard to calculate.

A high-ranking NASA official has resigned a week before a historic spaceflight is scheduled to launch. The letter goes on to say "I made a mistake in that choice for which I alone must bear the consequences".

The space agency offered a bland statement about Loverro's resignation as Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) at NASA. In March, the NASA Office of the Inspector General announced that it would audit the acquisition strategy for the Artemis program, including plans to land astronauts on the moon by 2024.

Steve Jurczyk, NASA's associate administrator, will chair the readiness review meeting on Thursday. NASA is just beginning a new phase of human spaceflight, and losing its overseer for that effort casts doubt (whether founded or not) on its ability to follow through.

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