NASA Head of Human Spaceflight Resigns Just Days before 1st US Human Spaceflight in 9 years

Doug Loverro, NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, resigned from his post on May 18, 2020. Credit: NASA

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – In a shocking turn of events the recently appointed head of all NASA’s Human Spaceflight programs at Headquarters in Washington, D.C. , Doug Loverro, has resigned effective immediately – and it comes at a very critical juncture for the agency – just 9 days before American astronauts fly again to space from American soil for the first time in 9 years, on the commercial SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle on the Demo-2 test flight mission to the International Space Station (ISS) and as NASA ramps up for the Project Artemis human lunar landings.

Thus the timing could not be worse because both NASA and SpaceX need all hands on deck especially the top managers who will make the final decision to launch the historic Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission on May 27 with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida – in this make or break period and amidst the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

Loverro’s resignation as NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) is effective Monday May 18 according to separate statements both he and NASA released today, May 19.

“Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Doug Loverro has resigned from his position effective Monday, May 18,” NASA said in a statement May 19

Loverro was only in his position for less than 6 months after having been selected in October 2019 and it came as a complete surprise.

He replaced NASA’s longtime leader of Human Spaceflight Bill Gerstenmaier who was suddenly reassigned by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine last summer – supposedly in hope pf sppeding up Project Artemis hardware to accomplish the human landing at the South Pole by 2024.

Thus the directorate is again in sudden transition

There was no reason given for Loverro’s decision – but it may be related to the recently announced election of 3 contractors for NASA contracts in late April to study a Human Landing System (HLS) for the agency’s Project Artemis goal to land American astronauts on the Moon by 2024.

However Loverro mentioned in his statement that he took a “risk”

“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. And therefore, it is with a very, very heavy heart that I write to you today to let you know that I have resigned from NASA effective May 18th, 2020,” Loverro wrote May 19.

There was no mention of Loverro resigning at a NASA Space Council meeting earlier today chaired by VP Mike Pence or at NASA Advisory council meetings held last week dealing with human spaceflight programs.

3 U.S companies – Blue Origin, Dynetics and SpaceX – were selected by NASA to start design and development of human landing systems for Artemis astronauts to land on the Moon starting in 2024. Credits: NASA

 

Loverro will be replaced by his deputy Ken Bowersox who will serve as Acting Associate Administrator for HEO. Bowersox is a former astronaut and veteran of 5 space shuttle mission and retired U.S. Naval aviator.
Bowersox currently serves as the Deputy Associate Administrator for HEO.

“Throughout my long government career of over four and a half decades I have always found it to be true that we are sometimes, as leaders, called on to take risks. Our mission is certainly not easy, nor for the faint of heart, and risk-taking is part of the job description. 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.”

“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. And therefore, it is with a very, very heavy heart that I write to you today to let you know that I have resigned from NASA effective May 18th, 2020.”

It is not known if there will be any impact on the Demo-2 launch.

Loverro was scheduled to lead a Launch Readiness Review for the mission this week.

Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s associate administrator is now expected to take that role.

But NASA seems determined to press on

“Next week will mark the beginning of a new era in human spaceflight with the launch of NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. We have full confidence in the work Kathy Lueders and her entire Commercial Crew team have done to bring us here. This test flight will be a historic and momentous occasion that will see the return of human spaceflight to our country, and the incredible dedication by the men and women of NASA is what has made this mission possible,” NASA said.

Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on the Demo-2 test flight from historic Launch Complex 39A from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is slated for May 27 at 4:32 p.m. EDT for an extended mission.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will fly on board Demo-2 SpaceX Crew Dragon to the ISS from historic Launch Complex 39A from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida – meeting the media after IFA launch. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Artemis and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Demo-2, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

 

Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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