Days before the historic Crew Dragon launch, associate administrator for human exploration Douglas Loverro has left NASA, reported Space News. The sudden resignation took place on May 18, nine days before the launch.
Loverro will be replaced by Ken Bowersox, his deputy who will serve as acting associate administrator. NASA has not yet revealed why Loverro left but Space News sources claim he disagreed with administrator Jim Bridenstine over the nature of the exploration program.
“The risks we take, whether technical, political, or personal, all have potential consequences if we judge them incorrectly. I took such a risk earlier in the year because I judged it necessary to fulfill our mission,” Loverro wrote in a May 19 email to NASA employees. “Now, over the balance of time, it is clear that I made a mistake in that choice for which I alone must bear the consequences.”
Loverro gave no indication as to what the mistake he mentioned may be. The chair of the House space subcommittee also tweeted about the resignation.
“I am deeply concerned over this sudden resignation, especially eight days before the first scheduled launch of U.S. astronauts on U.S. soil in almost a decade,” said Congresswoman Kendra Horn. “Under this administration, we’ve seen a pattern of abrupt departures that have disrupted our efforts at human space flight.”
NASA hired Loverro last October to replace Bill Gerstenmaier who was reassigned to a special adviser position in July.
“I worked with Doug for many years on the Hill, and he is a respected strategic leader in both civilian and defense programs, overseeing the development and implementation of highly complicated systems,” said, at the time, Bridenstine.
“He is known for his strong, bipartisan work and his experience with large programs will be of great benefit to NASA at this critical time in our final development of human spaceflight systems for both Commercial Crew and Artemis.”
Before joining NASA, Loverro had a long career in national security space. He previously served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy from 2013 to 2017 and also held the position of executive director of the Air Force’s Space and Missile Systems Center.
No word has yet been given on how this resignation will affect sending humans into space from American soil. It is safe to assume that the Crew Dragon schedule will proceed as previously planned.