NASA's chief of human spaceflight, Doug Loverro, on Wednesday (May 20) abruptly resigned from his post after taking charge only six months ago. Loverro did not specify the reason behind his decision but he said in a farewell note to colleagues that he decided to step down due to a "mistake" he had committed earlier this year. Loverro's departure was effective on Monday.
A source told CNN that the incident aboiut which Loverro is talking was related to the Artemis Program which aims to return astronauts to the moon by 2024. The program was announcedin 2019 by the Trump administration.
Loverro started his role as the head of NASA's human spaceflight programs in December. In his resignation note, Loverro told NASA workers only that leaders are "called on to take risks" and added that, "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," Loverro wrote. "And therefore, it is with a very, very heavy heart that I write to you today to let you know that I have resigned from NASA effective May 18th, 2020."
Ken Bowersox, NASA's acting deputy associate administrator for human exploration and operations, will take charge as NASA's interim head of human spaceflight.
Loverro's sudden resignation raised some eyebrows on Capitol Hill with Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, who chairs the House space and science committee, saying she was "shocked" by the news.
"I trust that NASA Administrator Bridenstine will ensure that the right decision is made as to whether or not to delay the launch attempt. Beyond that, Mr. Loverro's resignation is another troubling indication that the Artemis Moon-Mars initiative is still not on stable footing. I look forward to clarification from NASA as to the reasons for this latest personnel action," Johnson said.
Kendra Horn, a Democrat from Oklahoma who chairs a House subcommittee on space, tweeted that she is "deeply concerned over this sudden resignation, especially eight days before the first scheduled launch of US astronauts on US soil in almost a decade."
While appointing Loverro in October, NASA chief Jim Bridenstine had called Loverro "a respected strategic leader in both civilian and defense programs" who "will be of great benefit to NASA at this critical time in our final development of human spaceflight systems for both Commercial Crew and Artemis."