The head of human spaceflight for NASA, Douglas Loverro, abruptly resigned on Monday just days before the first manned flight is scheduled to launch from the Kennedy Space Center since the space shuttle retired in 2011.
Loverro’s resignation comes just two days before he was to lead a critical “launch readiness review” meeting that would determine whether SpaceX should proceed to launch two NASA astronauts on a test mission to the International Space Station.
The head of NASA's human spaceflight office resigned Tuesday as astronauts readied for their first launch in a decade from American soil.
Douglas Loverro, associate administrator for the human exploration and operations mission directorate, had been in the for only seven months pic.twitter.com/aMwkUmxXJu
— Team World Supporter (@WorldSupporter) May 20, 2020
Two people with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the personnel matter said his resignation was spurred when Loverro broke a rule during NASA’s recent procurement of a spacecraft capable of landing humans on the moon.
In an interview, Loverro declined to discuss the exact details of why he resigned.
“It had nothing to do with commercial crew,” he said. “It had to do with moving fast on Artemis, and I don’t want to characterize it in any more detail than that.” Artemis is NASA’s program to return people to the moon.
Loverro said there were “no sour grapes” and that he holds “NASA in great respect. I hope they can continue on everything they started and will follow through on their plans.”
On May 27, SpaceX is scheduled to launch two NASA astronauts on a test flight of the Dragon spacecraft to the space station. In a statement Tuesday, NASA indicated the launch would proceed without delay.
Our @NASA_SLS rocket will launch the #Artemis missions and its astronauts to the Moon. But how does a rocket fly? @NASA_Marshall Aerospace engineer Tracie Prater explains the components that help a rocket launch and fly in our latest #NASAatHome video: https://t.co/n5yKRuKR60 pic.twitter.com/HSsRtbEzvL
— Douglas Loverro (@DouglasLoverro) May 18, 2020