Doug Loverro, the agency’s head of human exploration, resigned less than six months after taking office, according to a NASA memo, according tomedia reports. Just a week after a major leadership change, NASA will embark on a nearly decade-long manned rocket launch mission from its own country, when astronauts will take SpaceX’s manned Dragon spacecraft into space.
This is the second time the position has been thrown into chaos during the Trump administration. In July 2019, NASA demoted William Gerstenmaier, the former head of the Human Exploration Project. Gerstenmaier is understood to have served as DEPUTy Director of Human Exploration at NASA for nearly 15 years. After a long search by NASA, Loverro took over in December, but his tenure has now been shortened.
“Loverro began work this year and made significant progress while working for NASA,” read a memo to NASA employees. His leadership in (human exploration) brings us one step closer to achieving our goal of getting the first woman and the next man to the moon by 2024. Loverro has served our country for more than 40 years, and we thank him for his service and contribution to this institution. “
It is reported that Loverro resigned on Monday, May 18, local time, but NASA Director Jim Bridenine did not mention the personnel change with Vice President Mike Pence at a meeting of the National Space Council on Tuesday, May 19. In a memo to employees, Loverro attributed his resignation to an adventure earlier this year, but did not explain why. “It’s certainly not easy to accomplish our mission, and it’s not easy for the faint-hearted, but taking risks is part of our responsibility,” he wrote. If we misjudge, the risks we take, whether technical, political or personal, can have a potential impact. Earlier this year, I took that risk because I felt the need to fulfill our mission. Now, after a trade-off, it is clear that I made a mistake in this choice and that I have to bear the consequences on my own. “
Ken Bowersox, who temporarily filled the position when Gerstenmaier was demoted, is now gone and will take over again. Bowersox, a former astronaut, is currently the deputy director of the Human Exploration Project.
To be honest, it’s crazy to make such a big personnel change at this point in time. Considering that Loverro has been effectively overseeing NASA’s commercial astronaut program. SpaceX plans to get its first two astronauts to complete the project on May 27, more than a week later.
In response, NASA argued that the change would not affect the program or mission. “We are confident in the work done by project manager Kathy Lueders and his entire business team,” NASA’s memo said. The test flight will be a historic and significant moment, will witness the return of human space flight sequestering into our country, and will also witness the incredible dedication of NASA’s men and women to make this mission possible. “