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Turf war? Doug Loverro, the head of NASA’s manned spaceflight program who was brought in seven months ago to replace the fired William Gerstenmaier, has abruptly resigned.
Loverro, who previously worked at the super-secret National Reconnaissance Office, which builds and launches military satellites, said he was leaving the agency “with a very, very heavy heart” after making some “mistake” during his tenure, according to a letter to the workforce obtained by POLITICO.
“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,” Loverro wrote. “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.
Reached by phone, Loverro declined to offer specifics about his “mistake,” but said his departure is not due to a disagreement with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine or any safety concerns about next week’s launch.
You can read Loverro’s resignation letter here.
This is very strange. Loverro was clearly ruffling feathers in the big space contractor world with his increasing effort to reduce NASA’s reliance on its SLS rocket for its deep space manned program. I can’t help but wonder, in this brutal Washington culture we live in today that is willing to frame people for sometimes the most petty reasons, if some blackmail was involved here.
I doubt his resignation will change much. NASA will continue to reduce its reliance on SLS, simply because the rocket is a very expensive, over-priced, behind-schedule lemon that will never get us anywhere.