Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 20th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Major news: Douglas Loverro, NASA’s recently appointed associate administrator for human exploration and operations, has resigned. Annie Glenn, the famed widow of astronaut and Senator John Glenn, and a renowned advocate and leader for individuals with speech and communication disorders, has died. NASA’s public outreach efforts have been rewarded with Webbys and People’s Voice awards.

Human Space Exploration

Doug Loverro resigns (5/19): Doug Loverro, who joined NASA in December as associate administrator for human exploration and operations, resigned, the agency disclosed Tuesday. The departure was abrupt and a surprise to the space community. It comes a little more than a week before the launch of Demo-2, the NASA Commercial Crew Program/SpaceX test flight of the crew Dragon capsule on a mission to the International Space Station (ISS) with astronaut Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard. Without further explanation, Loverro told NASA employees he took a risk earlier, technical, political or personal, for which he erred. Ken Bowersox, the former astronaut, will fill the position on an acting basis.

NASA human spaceflight head Loverro leaves agency (5/19): Doug Loverro’s sudden departure as NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, was tied to a disagreement with NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine over the exploration program, according to industry sources. U.S. Rep. Sandra Horn, chair of the House space subcommittee, expressed concern over the move. Loverro’s long time predecessor, Bill Gerstenmaier, who was reassigned in July 2019, also abruptly departed over the pace of efforts to achieve an accelerated 2024 return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers.

Space Science

Colonizing Mars may require humanity to tweak its DNA (5/19): Travelling to Mars in the future with plans to stay may require some genetic engineering to deal with radiation exposures and lesser gravity, Kennda Lynch, an astrobiologist and geomicrobiologist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute, of Houston, told a May 12 webinar hosted by the New York Academy of Sciences.

Other News

Annie Glenn, famed astronaut’s widow, dies of coronavirus complications at age 100
Time (5/19): Annie Glenn, wife of NASA Mercury astronaut John Glenn who overcame a childhood stutter to become an advocate for others with speech disorders, has died of complications from the COVID-19 pandemic. Glenn, who was 100, was a nursing home resident in St. Paul, Minnesota. “She represented all that is good about our country,” said Minnesota Gov. Mike DeWine, who served with the former astronaut in the U.S. Senate, representing Ohio. Annie was a renowned advocate and leader for individuals with speech and communication disorders. Virtual services are planned for June 6 in Columbus, Ohio.

NASA remembers Annie Glenn
NASA (5/19): After his historic orbital mission as a Mercury astronaut in February 1962, John Glenn would go on to serve four terms in the U.S. Senate from Ohio. On October 29, 1998, he launched again aboard the shuttle Discovery. Then 77, he became the oldest person to fly in space. Glenn died on December 8, 2016 at the age of 95. “The Glenns’ dedication to each other is well known, and we looked to them as an unmatched example of the strength and compassion that a lifetime of devotion creates. She will be missed.” NASA said in a statement.

NASA wins 4 Webbys, 4 People’s Voice awards
NASA (5/19): NASA’s efforts at outreach on its missions using websites, social media and apps were recognized Tuesday. The agency is the recipient of four Webby and four People’s Voice awards. Examples of the winning entries include a “send your name to Mars” initiative, a Hubble Space Telescope tribute for the visually impaired and providing insight into NASA’s influence on technology down to the local level.

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