Chief of NASA’s Human Spaceflight quits before 8 days of crew launch

Doug Loverro, Chief of human spaceflight program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), is resigning from his designation after six months of his appointment. On Tuesday, Loverro said in a farewell note to his colleagues that left because of a mistake he made earlier this year. He officially departed the space agency on 18th May 2020.

A source aware of the matter told CNN Business that the resignation relates to the Artemis Program. Last year, the Trump administration announced that the program pursues to return astronauts to the moon by 2024, and analysts criticized it as unrealistic.

Loverro resigned for this year granted contracts for agency’s Development

According to the familiar source aware with the departure reason of Loverro said the issue surrounds around the contracts that granted earlier this year for the development of astronauts, or for the developments of spaceships to carry lunar landers to the surface of the moon.

Loverro denied giving remarks on his departure reasons when reporters reached him on the phone on Tuesday evening. Loverro started serving as the chief of human spaceflight programs of NASA in December, replacing William Gerstenmaier. Gerstenmaier served as the head for more than ten years.

Loverro told NASA workers in his around seven hundred word note that leaders called on to take risks and added that took such a risk last year because he judged it necessary to fulfill the agency’s mission. Now, with the passage of time, he realized that he made a mistake in that choice for which he alone must bear the costs.

Office of the Inspector General announced an audit

The office of the Inspector General (IG) of NASA announced to initiate an audit of the acquisition strategy of the agency for the Artemis program in March. Though it is not clear if that review relates to the departure of Loverro. Moreover, it is also not clear what role Loverro plays in the selection process of the program.

Another source aware of the matter, who requested to take his name confidential because the space agency still not publicized details, told CNN Business that the incident not related to the historic milestone of NASA next week when SpaceX, the partner of NASA in the Commercial Crew Program, launches two space pilots to the International Space Station.

Steve Jurczyk will take over the role of Loverro

For the first since 2011, that mission will mark that human’s launch into orbit from the soil of the United States. Besides Loverro scheduled to head over a final technical review meeting on Thursday, ahead of the launch on 27th May. According to NASA, the Associate Administrator of NASA, Steve Jurczyk, will take over the seat of Loverro at that meeting.

The acting deputy associate administrator for human exploration & operations of NASA, Ken Bowersox, will become interim head of human spaceflight of NASA. The exit of Loverro instantly raised some eyebrows on Capitol Hill. A Democrat from Texas, Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who heads the House space and science committee, stated that she surprised with the resignation news of Loverro.

Johnson said he trusts that Bridenstine, the NASA Administrator will ensure that the accurate decision made as to whether or not to delay the attempt of the launch of the capsule. Beyond that, the resignation of Loverro is another worrying indication that the initiative of Artemis Moon-Mars is still not on steady footing.

A Democrat from Oklahoma, Kendra Horn, who chairs a House subcommittee on space, tweets that she extremely concerned over this rapid resignation of Loverro. Specifically eight days before the first scheduled launch of the United States astronauts on the soil of the U.S. in almost a decade.

Jim Bridenstine called Loverro a strategic leader

The timing of the departure of Loverro related to when the associate administrator, Jurczyk, made a recommendation to Jim Bridenstine, the Administrator of NASA, the source said. It was not relating to the next week’s launch of Crew Dragon. According to public documents, Jurczyk was the source selection officer for the lunar lander contract awards of the Artemis.

In announcing the appointment of Loverro in October, Jim Bridenstine, the NASA chief called Loverro, a respected strategic leader in both defense and civilian programs who will be of great advantage to NASA at this critical moment in the agency’s final development of human spaceflight systems for both Artemis and Commercial Crew.

Chief of NASA’s Human Spaceflight quits before crew launch

According to an agency-wide email sent on Tuesday, Loverro hit the ground running after his selection in 2019 and made noteworthy progress in his time at the space agency. Lovero tells CNN Business that he is a hundred percent assured that leadership would be able to perform the SpaceX mission. He added that he has faith in ambitious human spaceflight goals of NASA that are achievable.

SpaceX launch of Next week will mark the highest-profile mission of the space agency since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011. SpaceX had a multibillion-dollar agreement under the Commercial Crew Program of NASA, worked for the better part of the last ten years to ready its Dragon space capsule for crewed flights to the International Space Station (ISS). Since the retirement of the Shuttle, NASA has to rely on Russian agencies for rides to Space Station.

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