Wednesday, October 28, 2020

NASA’s Chief of Human Spaceflight Resigns Ahead of Manned Launch

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Mary Anne Butler (Mab) has been part of the fast-paced world of journalism since she was 15, getting her start in album reviews and live concert coverage for a nationally published (print) music magazine. She eventually transitioned to online media, writing for such sites as UGO/IGN, ComicsOnline, Geek Magazine, Ace of Geeks, Aggressive Comix (where she is still Editor-in-Chief), Bleeding Cool (where she was News Editor), and now NerdBot as News Editor. Over the past 10 years, she’s built a reputation at conventions across the globe as a cosplayer (occasionally), photographer (constantly), panelist and moderator (mostly), and reporter (always). Interviews, reviews, observations, breaking news, and objective reporting are the name of the game for the founder of Harkonnen Knife Fight, a Dune-themed band with an international presence. Though she be but little, she is fierce.

NASA confirmed that associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Doug Loverro has resigned from his position as of Monday. A statement from Loverro has since surfaced, and it’s raising some serious questions.

“Throughout my long government career of over four and a half decades I have always found it to be true that we are sometimes, as leaders, called on to take risks,” wrote Loverro in a statement obtained by Politico. He had previously worked at the National Reconnaissance Office, which builds and launches military satellites in an understandably extremely secretive environment.

“The risks we take, whether technical, political, or personal, all have potential consequences if we judge them incorrectly. 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,” he continued.

It’s worth noting that POLITICO says two separate sources within NASA have told them Loverro was “pushed out by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine,” rather than a resignation.

The current Deputy HEO Administrator and former astronaut Ken Bowersox, who also spent some years at SpaceX, is taking over the position.

“Bowersox has previously led HEO in a time of transition, and NASA has the right leadership in place to continue making progress on the Artemis and Commercial Crew programs,” NASA said in a statement.

This news comes on the cusp of a major milestone for NASA and the American Space Program. It was announced earlier today that the upcoming SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Capsule, which will send astronauts into space from the U.S. for the first time since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011, will be jointly carried on cable television by Discovery and Science Channel.

Among the guests lined up for the program are “Mythbusters” host Adam Savage and NASA astronaut Mark Rober, as well as [checks notes] Katy Perry?! A quartet of current and former astronauts and NASA Administrator Bridenstine will offer expert insight for the program, which also will feature an interview with astronaut Chris Cassidy from the International Space Station, which is where this SpaceX mission is headed.

Chairwoman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s space subcommittee Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Okla.) said in a statement that she is “deeply concerned over this sudden resignation, especially given its timing. Under this administration, we’ve seen a pattern of abrupt departures that have disrupted our nation’s efforts at human space flight.”

“The bottom line is that, as the committee that overseas NASA, we need answers,” Horn continued. We agree.

The launch is scheduled to happen on May 27th, and “Space Launch Live: America Returns to Space” is set to start at 11 a.m. PT/2 p.m. ET from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.

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