Why did NASA's Spaceflight Official Resign a Week Before Historical Launch? Letter Reveals the Reason

Human Spaceflight Chief Douglas Loverro Revealed in a Letter Why he Left NASA a Week Before a Historical Launch

With NASA just a week away from its historical crewed commercial spaceflight, the sudden departure of the agency's head for human spaceflight operations came as a huge shock. According to a letter penned by Douglas Loverro, he decided to leave the agency due to a mistake he committed recently.

Loverro was appointed by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine as the agency's associated administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate in October last year. On May 18, Loverro officially resigned from his position.

NASA'S Upcoming Mission

Douglas Loverro
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine named Douglas Loverro as the agency’s new associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate on Oct. 16, 2019. Department of Defense/Monica A. King

NASA is currently preparing to transport two astronauts to the International Space Station through its commercial spaceflight partner SpaceX. The mission, which will be carried out via the company's Crew Dragon capsule, will mark the first time that NASA will be able to launch astronauts from U.S. soil in almost a decade.

The mission is scheduled to launch on May 27, 2020, from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Unfortunately, just a week before the historical launch, Loverro officially resigned from NASA. His sudden departure has alarmed members of the U.S. Congress, with many of them asking about the reason for his resignation and how it will affect the upcoming mission.

Loverro's Letter To NASA

In a letter drafted by Loverro to NASA, the former spaceflight chief indicated his reason for leaving the agency. According to Loverro, facing risks was a part of his position as a high-ranking official at NASA. During his time with the agency, he took on a couple of risks for the betterment of the agency. However, Loverro noted that earlier this year, he made a mistake with one of his decisions. The former NASA official stated that this mistake is the primary reason for his resignation.

"The risks we take, whether technical, political, or personal, all have potential consequences if we judge them incorrectly," he stated in a letter to NASA, which was obtained by Politico. "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. My leaving is because of my personal actions, not anything we accomplished together."

Loverro's Departure

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Loverro did not go into detail regarding the nature of the mistake that he referred to in his letter. Although industry officials have speculated that his sudden departure was caused by Bridenstine's actions to remove him from his position, Loverro maintained that his resignation was not caused by a disagreement with the NASA administrator.

The former human spaceflight chief also explained that he did not leave NASA due to a safety issue with the Crew Dragon capsule launch next week.

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