Posts tagged with "ARS Technica"

NASA’s human spaceflight leader mysteriously resigns before SpaceX Crew Dragon launch

May 21, 2020

The head of NASA’s Human Spaceflight program, Douglas Loverro, has resigned after spending about seven months at the agency.

The unexpected exit has set off alarms in Congress about the flight, itself—as well as how this disruption could affect the historic mission.

Indeed, in a letter to NASA employees, Loverro said that he is leaving the program “with a very, very heavy heart” after making a “mistake” during his tenure, according to a letter obtained by Politico,

The resignation comes little more than a week before NASA and SpaceX—the latter, a private American aerospace manufacturer—are slated to launch two astronauts from U.S. soil to the International Space Station for the first time, Fast Company reports.

Meanwhile, Ars Technica reports that Loverro was set to give the final okay for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, which will carry astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.

That job now will fall to Ken Bowersox, the acting associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations.

Loverro wrote that he was leaving the agency due to an undisclosed “mistake,” according to the letter 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 reportedly wrote. “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.”

The question is, why?

Top lawmakers demanded answers late Tuesday, May 19, about Loverro’s departure, especially since it occurred just eight days before the maiden voyage set for May 27 of two astronauts aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

“I am deeply concerned over this sudden resignation, especially given its timing,” Representative Kendra Horn (D-Oklahoma), the chairperson of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee’s space subcommittee, said in a statement. “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,” she concluded.

Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), who chairs the science panel, was “shocked” by the development; but said in a statement. “I trust that NASA Administrator [Jim] Bridenstine will ensure that the right decision is made as to whether or not to delay the launch attempt.”

“Beyond that, Mr. Loverro’s resignation is another troubling indication that the Artemis Moon-Mars initiative is still not on stable footing.  I look forward to clarification from NASA as to the reasons for this latest personnel action.”

Reached by Fast Company, a NASA spokesperson sent over a boilerplate statement confirming Loverro’s departure and said that the agency is “unable to discuss personnel matters” beyond it.

Research contact: @FastCompany

‘Not Off Our Coast’ is new slogan vs. offshore drilling

January 15, 2018

“Not Off Our Coast,” North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper (D) tweeted on January 11, in response to a new policy announced by the Trump administration that would expand offshore oil drilling on both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts of the United States.

The governor is among a handful of state leaders who are protesting both the new policy and the exemption of largely Republican Florida from that ruling—which has greatly angered the other states affected

Specifically, ARS Technica reported, the governors of New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, California, Oregon, and Washington all oppose the practice. And Democratic senators from Florida and Massachusetts, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, and Republican South Carolina Representative Mark Sanford also have come out in opposition to new leases being auctioned off outside of their constituencies.

Cooper said, “We’ve been clear: This would bring unacceptable risks to our economy, our environment and our coastal communities.”

According to a report by The Washington Post, the Florida carve-out, announced January 9 by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, created new doubts about the fate of the entire offshore drilling decision — and immediately became another challenge for Republicans as they work to hold off Democrats in the midterm elections.

Nine of the 11 states that opposed the drilling order, the Post said, have gubernatorial races this year, and many of the most competitive contests for the House of Representatives will unfold in districts that touch coastline.

Most Americans oppose the change in policy, as well. Indeed, 59% of U.S. adults said they prioritized protecting the environment in Gallup’s March 2017 Environment survey, compared with 34% who supported the production of oil, natural gas and coal. This was the highest percentage who favored protecting the environment over energy production since 2001.

While not directly related to offshore drilling, less than half of Americans expressed support for opening up additional federal land for oil exploration in that same poll. This was down from 65% in 2014 when Gallup first asked the question.

Research contact:datainquiry@gallup.com