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A view at night of the Earth from the International Space Station. Photo: NASA

NASA's head of human spaceflight, Doug Loverro, has resigned from his position at the space agency.

Why it matters: Loverro's resignation comes only a week before SpaceX is expected to launch a pair of NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, marking the first crewed launch from the U.S. since 2011.

Details: In an interview with Axios, Loverro said his sudden departure had nothing to do with the upcoming rocket launch.

  • "I have 100% faith in the success of that mission," Loverro told Axios.
  • While Loverro wouldn't comment on the specifics of his resignation, some reports suggest he stepped down because he broke a rule involving the awarding of contracts to companies that hope to build lunar landers for NASA.
  • "I have no bitter feelings at all about what has happened," Loverro added. "I took a risk and I knew the potential consequences at the time."

Background: Loverro was put in charge of human spaceflight at NASA in October after Bill Gerstenmaier, a much-loved figure at the agency, was reassigned.

  • According to a message sent out to NASA staff, deputy associate administrator for human spaceflight Ken Bowersox will take over as acting chief.

Between the lines: The chief of human spaceflight is a powerful position within NASA. The person in that role effectively sets the tone for NASA's most prominent job — as an agency that explores.

  • During Loverro's short tenure, he promoted NASA's plans to return people to the Moon by 2024.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with comment from Loverro.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Aug 1, 2020 - Science

NASA astronauts head home after historic spaceflight

The Crew Dragon spacecraft as it leaves the International Space Station. Photo: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are heading back to Earth from the International Space Station aboard their SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Why it matters: Behnken and Hurley's return will mark the end of SpaceX's first crewed mission to the station and the first mission in which American astronauts launched from U.S. soil in nine years.

2 hours ago - World

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with first lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.