NASA’s head of human spaceflight exits just days before historic mission

Doug Loverro has unexpectedly resigned as NASA’s head of human spaceflight after less than a year in the job.

The surprise departure from the post as associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) came to light on Tuesday, May 19, though it took place a day earlier.

It comes just a week ahead of a historic space mission that will see NASA launch astronauts from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade, as well as SpaceX’s first crewed launch using its Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Loverro and NASA are yet to make any official comment about the resignation, though it’s understood that former NASA astronaut Ken Bowersox — who was Loverro’s deputy — has taken over the post and will oversee next week’s much-anticipated Demo-2 mission.

In a message to HEO directorate employees obtained by Spaceref, Loverro, who was in the post for just seven months, suggests he decided to leave because of “a risk” he took earlier in the year “because I judged it necessary to fulfill our mission,” adding, “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.” Loverro offers no details about the nature of his error.

A widely reported internal NASA memo to employees praises Loverro’s input during his time at the space agency: “Loverro hit the ground running this year and has made significant progress in his time at NASA. His leadership of HEO has moved us closer to accomplishing our goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the moon in 2024. Loverro has dedicated more than four decades of his life in service to our country, and we thank him for his service and contributions to the agency.”

The precise reason for Leverro’s surprise departure remains a mystery for the time being, but we can expect more details to emerge over time.

Digital Trends has reached out to NASA in the hope of gaining some more information, and we will update this piece when we hear back.

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