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NASA’s Human Spaceflight Chief Resigns Ahead Of Upcoming Launch
POLAND - 2020/03/23: In this photo illustration a NASA logo seen displayed on a smartphone.
Mateusz Slodkowski / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Douglas Loverro, head of human spaceflight at NASA, abruptly resigned on Monday, seven months into the position and only a week before the agency plans to send astronauts to space from United States soil for the first time in almost a decade. 

In a farewell email to NASA employees, Loverro declined to explicitly explain why he was resigning, but cited an unspecified “mistake” he took in the course of the planned mission, according to NPR

“I had truly looked forward to living the next four-plus years with you as we returned Americans to the surface of the moon and prepared for the long journey beyond. But that is not to be,” said Loverro. “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.”

The news agency reports that a source familiar with the matter said Loverro was asked to resign after he failed to follow a rule or regulation. 

Furthermore, The Washington Post reports that two sources with knowledge of the situation “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.”

Loverro told Politico in an interview that his resignation was not due to disagreements with the administrator of NASA or concerns about the upcoming launch, a collaboration with the private exploration company SpaceX. 

During a meeting at the National Space Council Meeting on Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence commended the mission for ushering in the “trailblazers of a new era” of space exploration. The launch is scheduled for May 27 at 4:33pm EST. 

As The Washington Post noted earlier this week, if the mission is successful, it will mark “the end of the era where only government-owned spacecraft achieved such heights” and add “another major step in the privatization of space.”

SpaceX was founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, who has gained recent media attention as the chief executive of Tesla, with the goal of “enabling people to live on other planets.”

Musk recently told podcast host Joe Rogan that his abrupt decision to sell his homes and abandon his plans to build a dream house were connected with his desire to help humanity reach Mars. 

“Does it really make sense for me to spend time designing and building a house?,” remarked Musk. “Or should I be allocating that time to getting us to Mars? I should probably do the latter.”

“You can only do so many things,” said Musk. “Allocating time to building a house, even if it was a really great house, still is not a good use of time relative to developing the rockets necessary to get us to Mars and helping solve sustainable energy.”

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