NASA official out days be­fore launch

Two as­tro­nauts are set to be­gin mis­sion May 27

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Emre Kelly

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – The chief of NASA’s hu­man spaceflight direc­torate re­signed Mon­day, a sur­pris­ing de­vel­op­ment from an agency sched­uled to launch as­tro­nauts from Amer­i­can soil next week for the first time since 2011.

In a state­ment is­sued Tues­day, NASA confirmed that as­so­ci­ate ad­min­is­tra­tor for Hu­man Exploratio­n and Op­er­a­tions Doug Loverro re­signed from his po­si­tion Mon­day. He had just been se­lected for the role in Oc­to­ber.

The agency did not dis­close why Loverro, pre­vi­ously of the se­cre­tive Na­tional Re­con­nais­sance Office, de­cided to leave the team that is on the cusp of meet­ing hu­man spaceflight goals.

The shakeup comes just a week be­fore Bob Behnken and Doug Hur­ley launch from Kennedy Space Cen­ter on a SpaceX Fal­con 9 rocket, a mile­stone set to fill the gap a lack of Amer­i­can- led hu­man spaceflight has left behind. The vet­eran as­tro­nauts are set to launch from Pad 39A at 4: 33 p. m. May 27.

It re­mains un­clear whether Loverro’s de­par­ture will have an im­pact on the mis­sion time­line.

Ac­cord­ing to a Politico- ob­tained mes­sage that Loverro sent to his team,

“personal ac­tions” were the force that drove the de­par­ture. He told the pub­li­ca­tion that it was not due to a dis­agree­ment be­tween him and NASA Ad­min­is­tra­tor Jim Bri­den­s­tine, but rather a

“mis­take.”

“My leav­ing is be­cause of my personal ac­tions, not any­thing we ac­com­plished to­gether,” he told Politico.

His act­ing re­place­ment: Ken Bow­er­sox, cur­rently the deputy HEO ad­min­is­tra­tor, who is a for­mer as­tro­naut and a re­tired Navy avi­a­tor. He also spent sev­eral years at SpaceX.

“Bow­er­sox has pre­vi­ously led HEO in a time of tran­si­tion, and NASA has the right lead­er­ship in place to con­tinue mak­ing progress on the Artemis and Com­mer­cial Crew pro­grams,” NASA said in a state­ment.

For­mer space shut­tle as­tro­naut and cur­rent SpaceX con­sul­tant Gar­rett Reis­man said via Twit­ter that while the tim­ing is not ideal, Bow­er­sox is ca­pa­ble of ris­ing to the task.

“Tim­ing on this is not good, but I’d be a lot more con­cerned if it weren’t for the fact that Bow­er­sox is more than ca­pa­ble of oversee­ing this im­por­tant week in hu­man spaceflight,” he said. “His deep ex­pe­ri­ence at NASA and SpaceX makes him the ideal re­place­ment for Loverro, ac­tu­ally.”

Be­fore Loverro, long­time NASA vet­eran Wil­liam Ger­sten­maier was in charge of hu­man spaceflight op­er­a­tions un­til his ouster. He now con­sults with SpaceX.

Personal rea­sons are behind his de­par­ture, says NASA’s for­mer as­so­ci­ate ad­min­is­tra­tor for the Hu­man Exploratio­n and Op­er­a­tions Doug Loverro. NASA

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