A leading figure at Nasa, the agency’s human spaceflight program, abruptly resigned just days before the United States sent astronauts back into space from U.S. soil for the first time since the space shuttle program retired nearly a decade ago.
Doug Loverro, the official head of the human space flight department, left on Monday, Nasa reported.
Next week, Elon Musk̵
Nasa said on Tuesday that the launch would continue on schedule. A review of vital readiness for launch is planned for later this week.
“Next week will mark the beginning of a new era in human spaceflight with the launch of NASA astronauts Bob Benken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station,” the space agency said in a statement. “This test flight will be a historic and significant occasion to see the return of human space flight to our country, and the incredible dedication of the men and women of NASA is what made this mission possible.”
The men are scheduled to blow up the SpaceX Dragon from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Wednesday next week.
Nasa said in a statement Tuesday that Loverro has resigned as associate administrator for people and operations research on Monday, noting that Ken Bowersox, Loverro’s deputy, will serve as assistant administrator. The spokesman did not immediately respond to media inquiries about the background to Loverro’s abrupt departure.
But the announcement surprised the space community, Space News reported.
In the past, Loverro was an official representative of the Pentagon. He has been in the role of the human space flight in NASA for several months.
The Washington Post reported that his resignation came after he broke a rule during NASA’s recent purchase of a spacecraft capable of landing people on the moon, citing two people who know about the situation.
Earlier this year, Nasa selected three private space companies to lead the development of lunar landings for its upcoming moon landings.
The three companies are Blue Origin, owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos; Elon Musk’s SpaceX; and Dynetics, based in Huntsville, Alabama. The three companies compete with each other to see who can develop their proposals in working farmers.