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China human

China OKs human trials for nasal spray coronavirus vaccine – Fox News

China has approved the first phase of human trials for a potential COVID-19 vaccine administered through a nasal spray.

The inoculation is being developed by researchers at Xiamen University, Hong Kong University, and vaccine maker Beijing Wantai Biological Pharmacy Enterprise, according to Bloomberg News.

This is the 10th such candidate from China to proceed to the crucial stage of human testing.

WHO SCIENTIST SAYS ASTRAZENECA CORONAVIRUS TRIAL PAUSE IS ‘GOOD WAKE-UP CALL’

The spray contains strains of the weakened flu virus with genetic segments of the coronavirus’s spike protein. Once in the body, it mimics the natural infection of respiratory viruses to stimulate the body’s immune response against the pathogen that causes COVID-19, Science and Technology Daily reports. The paper is affiliated with China’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

The hope is that a vaccine sprayed through the nose may have a better chance of stopping the virus in the respiratory tracts, while a shot may not be strong enough to stave off infection.

Staff members check and clean equipment at a vaccine production plant operated by SinoPharm in Beijing.  (Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua via AP)

Staff members check and clean equipment at a vaccine production plant operated by SinoPharm in Beijing.  (Zhang Yuwei/Xinhua via AP)

Encouraging animal-based trials reinforced the concept.

A study published last month by researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis concluded that a nasal vaccine prevented infection in mice — significantly reducing lung damage — and that the spray was more successful in fending off the virus.

Intranasal sprays are already employed to prevent the flu and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has highlighted their usefulness.

The World Health Organization reports that at least 35 coronavirus vaccine trials are currently underway across the globe.

A major study conducted by pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, however, paused this week after researchers said a participant reported a “potentially unexplained illness.”

In the wake of AstraZeneca’s setback, China’s own developers — CanSino Biologics Inc. and state-owned China National Biotec Group Co. — have reassured consumers about the safety of their own shots.

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None of the Chinese diplomats traveling to virus hot spots overseas have reported infections months after receiving CNBG vaccines, their general counsel told Science and Technology Daily.

According to MarketWatch, there are seven vaccine candidates that have moved into clinical trials with human participants, including three that have moved into a crucial development phase.

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human Second

Second human EEE case of 2020 confirmed by Massachusetts health officials – WCVB Boston

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is reporting the year’s second human case of Eastern equine encephalitis.State health officials said a woman in her 60s was exposed to the EEE virus in Hampden County.As a result, the EEE risk level in Wilbraham has been raised to “critical,” while the risk levels in Hampden and Monson have been raised to “high.” All three communities are in Hampden County.In addition, the risk level in the Hampden County communities of Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Ludlow, Palmer and Springfield has been raised to “moderate.”The communities of Middleborough and Carver, in Plymouth County, were raised to critical risk on Aug. 3 after a Middleborough boy under the age of 18 became the first Massachusetts resident to test positive for EEE in 2020.Eight Massachusetts communities are at high risk for EEE, while 20 more are at moderate risk for the virus.According to the DPH, the EEE virus has been found in 65 mosquito samples this year, with over 70% of them in species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people.Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. Last year, there were 12 human cases of EEE in Massachusetts with six deaths.All Massachusetts residents are reminded to use mosquito repellent any time they are outside, and those in high- and critical-risk communities are advised to schedule their outdoor activity to avoid the dusk to dawn hours in order to reduce exposure to the mosquitoes most likely to spread EEE.The DPH said it working with the local health departments and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to coordinate mosquito surveillance and appropriate public health response activities.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

BOSTON —

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is reporting the year’s second human case of Eastern equine encephalitis.

State health officials said a woman in her 60s was exposed to the EEE virus in Hampden County.

As a result, the EEE risk level in Wilbraham has been raised to “critical,” while the risk levels in Hampden and Monson have been raised to “high.” All three communities are in Hampden County.

In addition, the risk level in the Hampden County communities of Chicopee, East Longmeadow, Ludlow, Palmer and Springfield has been raised to “moderate.”

The communities of Middleborough and Carver, in Plymouth County, were raised to critical risk on Aug. 3 after a Middleborough boy under the age of 18 became the first Massachusetts resident to test positive for EEE in 2020.

Eight Massachusetts communities are at high risk for EEE, while 20 more are at moderate risk for the virus.

According to the DPH, the EEE virus has been found in 65 mosquito samples this year, with over 70% of them in species of mosquitoes capable of spreading the virus to people.

Eastern equine encephalitis is a rare but potentially fatal disease that can affect people of all ages. Last year, there were 12 human cases of EEE in Massachusetts with six deaths.

All Massachusetts residents are reminded to use mosquito repellent any time they are outside, and those in high- and critical-risk communities are advised to schedule their outdoor activity to avoid the dusk to dawn hours in order to reduce exposure to the mosquitoes most likely to spread EEE.

The DPH said it working with the local health departments and the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources to coordinate mosquito surveillance and appropriate public health response activities.

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human Marines

Marines find human remains, vehicle that sunk in California training accident | TheHill – The Hill

The Marine Corps has found the amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) that sunk off the coast of Southern California last week, killing nine service members, the service said Tuesday.

The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF) and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group found the AAV on Monday, according to a I MEF news release.

The Navy’s Undersea Rescue Command also found human remains on board by using an underwater remotely operated video system from a merchant ship, the release added.

@USNavy Undersea Rescue Command confirmed human remains were identified with remotely-operated video systems aboard HOS Dominator, an undersea search & rescue ship. The Navy has expedited the movement of assets to recover the remains of the Marines and Sailor, and raise the AAV. pic.twitter.com/qAK62CMitV

— I MEF (@1stMEF) August 4, 2020

The AAV, which is used for amphibious troop transports, sunk Thursday after taking on water during a training exercise off the coast of San Clemente Island.

The vehicle sunk to a depth of about 385 feet, Tuesday’s release said.

One Marine, identified as 20-year-old Lance Cpl. Guillermo Perez, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Seven other Marines and a Navy sailor were reported missing after the accident. Officials announced Sunday they are presumed dead.

Those presumed dead were identified as Pfc. Bryan Baltierra, 19; Lance Cpl. Marco Barranco, 21; Pfc. Evan Bath, 19; U.S. Navy Hospitalman Christopher Gnem, 22; Pfc. Jack Ryan Ostrovsky, 21; Cpl. Wesley Rodd, 23; Lance Cpl. Chase Sweetwood, 19; and Cpl. Cesar Villanueva, 21.

The Navy is expediting sending equipment to recover the remains and bring up the AAV, with the equipment expected to be in place by the end of the week, the news release said. 

Two other Marines were injured in the accident. Sixteen service members were on board the vehicle at the time of the incident.

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhite House sued over lack of sign language interpreters at coronavirus briefings Wife blames Trump, lack of masks for husband’s coronavirus death in obit: ‘May Karma find you all’ Trump authorizes reduced funding for National Guard coronavirus response through 2020 MORE offered his condolences in a tweet Tuesday.

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of eight Marines and one Sailor during a training exercise off the coast of California,” he tweeted. “Our prayers are with their families. I thank them for the brave service their loved ones gave to our Nation. #SemperFidelis”

I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of eight Marines and one Sailor during a training exercise off the coast of California. Our prayers are with their families. I thank them for the brave service their loved ones gave to our Nation. #SemperFidelis

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 4, 2020

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human sperm

Human Sperm Swim Like ‘Playful Otters,’ New Study Finds – HuffPost

A new study has revealed that everything we thought we knew about sperm movement was a lie: Those persistent little swimmers don’t wiggle their way towards an egg like a snake, but rather roll around like an otter. 

That revelation, published Friday in the journal “Science Advances,” came from scientists at the University of Bristol and the National Autonomous University of Mexico, who reconstructed the movement of a sperm tail using three-dimensional microscopy. 

The researchers’ findings go against the observations of Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the Dutch scientist often known as the father of microbiology who was the first to document bacteria and red blood cells.

Van Leeuwenhoek also just happens to hold the unique distinction of having studied his own sperm under a microscope in 1677, with his erudite ejaculate evaluation published by the Royal Society of London a year later. At the time, van Leeuwenhoek described his sperm cells as “animalcules” and observed that the sperm tail, “when swimming, … lashes with a snakelike movement, like eels in water.”

The idea of this “snakelike movement” is an optical illusion caused by viewing sperm from above with a two-dimensional microscope, said Hermes Gadelha of the University of Bristol’s Polymaths Laboratory, one of the lead scientists on the study, in a statement. In reality, sperm wobble through the water in a manner quite unlike an eel, with their tails rotating repeatedly only on one side, like a spinning top. 

“Human sperm figured out if they roll as they swim, much like playful otters corkscrewing through water, their one-sided stoke would average itself out, and they would swim forwards,” Gadelha said, calling this corkscrew method of movement “a swimming technique to compensate for their lop-sidedness.”

Gadelha added that the “otter-like spinning” of sperm might seem unusual but holds an inner complexity reminiscent of the planets. “The sperm head spins at the same time that the sperm tail rotates around the swimming direction. This is known in physics as precession, much like when the orbits of Earth and Mars precess around the sun.” 

Alberto Darszon of the National Autonomous University of Mexico said that the discovery will “revolutionize our understanding of sperm motility and its impact on natural fertilization,” potentially providing new insight into how sperm swimming affects fertilization. He said the finding shows that there is still much misunderstood about the human body.

Sperm are very cheeky little creatures,” Gadelha told CNN. “Our new research using 3D microscopy shows that we have all been victims of a sperm deception.”

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human sperm

Human sperm roll like ‘playful otters’ as they swim, study finds, contradicting centuries-old beliefs – CNN

(CNN)More than 340 years ago, a Dutchman named Antonie van Leeuwenhoek invented a powerful new compound microscope and accidentally discovered the existence of bacteria, a groundbreaking achievement that changed the course of medicine.

Not long after, he decided to look at his ejaculate — definitely not an accident — and discovered tiny, wiggling creatures with tails he dubbed “animalcules.”
These creatures “moved forward owing to the motion of their tails like that of a snake or an eel swimming in water,” van Leeuwenhoek wrote to the secretary of the UK Royal Society in 1678.
The tail of a man’s sperm, he added “lashes with a snakelike movement.”
As scientists over the centuries continued to look down from above in their microscopes, there’s no doubt of what their eyes saw and recorded on film: Sperm swim by moving their tails from side to side.
Why shouldn’t we trust our eyes? So that’s what science has believed ever since.

A ‘sperm deception’

It turns out our eyes were wrong.
Now, using state-of-the-art 3D microscopy and mathematics, a new study says we have actually been the victims of “sperm deception.”
“Sperm are very cheeky little creatures. Our new research using 3D microscopy shows that we have all been victims of a sperm deception,” said study author Hermes Gadelha, head of the Polymaths Laboratory at the University of Bristol’s department of engineering mathematics in the UK.
“If you want to see the real beating of the tail, you need to move with the sperm and rotate with the sperm. So it’s almost like you needed to make a (camera) really tiny and stick it to the head of the sperm,” Gadelha said.
Gadelha’s co-authors, Gabriel Corkidi and Alberto Darszon from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, developed a way to do that. Using state-of-the art tools, including a super-high-speed camera that can record over 55,000 frames a second, the researchers were able to see that the side-to-side movement was actually an optical illusion.
In reality, a sperm’s tail lashes on only one side.
That one-sided stroke should cause the sperm to swim in a perpetual circle, Gadelha said. But no, sperm were smarter than that.
“Human sperm figured out if they roll as they swim, much like playful otters corkscrewing through water, their one-sided stroke would average itself out, and they would swim forwards,” said Gadelha, who is an expert in the mathematics of fertility.
“The rotation of the sperm is something that is very important. It’s something that allows the sperm to regain a symmetry and actually be able to go straight,” he said.

Surprising science

The findings were a true surprise, Gadelha said, so the team spent nearly two years repeating the experiment and cross-checking the math. The results held: just as the Earth turned out not to be flat, sperm don’t really swim like snakes or eels.
So why does that matter?
“It could be that the rolling motion hides some subtle aspects about the health of this sperm or how well it can travel quickly,” Gadelha said.
“These are all very hypothetical questions. What we hope is that more scientist and fertility experts will become interested and ask, ‘OK, how does this influence infertility?'”
As for what it feels like to reverse over 300 years of scientific assumptions, Gadelha is modest.
“Oh gosh, I always have a deep feeling inside that I’m always wrong,” he said.
“Who knows what we will find next? This is a measurement given by an instrument that has its limitations. We are right at this time, but we could be wrong again as science advances. And hopefully it will be something very exciting that we will learn in the next few years. “

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First human

First human trial of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine shows promise – Reuters

LONDON (Reuters) – An experimental vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University against the new coronavirus produced an immune response in early-stage clinical trials, data showed on Monday, preserving hopes it could be in use by the end of the year.

The vaccine, called AZD1222, has been described by the World Health Organization’s chief scientist as the leading candidate in a global race to halt a pandemic that has killed more than 600,000 people.

More than 150 possible vaccines are in various stages of development, and U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and China’s CanSino Biologics also reported positive responses for their candidates on Monday.

The vaccine from AstraZeneca and Britain’s University of Oxford prompted no serious side effects and elicited antibody and T-cell immune responses, according to trial results published in The Lancet medical journal, with the strongest response seen in people who received two doses.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose government has helped fund the project, hailed the results as “very positive news” though the researchers cautioned the project was still at an early stage.

“There is still much work to be done before we can confirm if our vaccine will help manage the COVID-19 pandemic,” vaccine developer Sarah Gilbert said. “We still do not know how strong an immune response we need to provoke to effectively protect against SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

AstraZeneca shares surged 10%, but then gave up most of those gains, to close up 1.45% on the day.

AstraZeneca has signed agreements with governments around the world to supply the vaccine should it prove effective and gain regulatory approval. It has said it will not seek to profit from the vaccine during the pandemic.

AZD1222 was developed by Oxford and licensed to AstraZeneca, which has put it into large-scale, late-stage trials to test its efficacy. It has signed deals to produce and supply over 2 billion doses of the shot, with 300 million doses earmarked for the United States.

Pascal Soriot, Chief Executive of AstraZeneca, said the company was on track to be producing doses by September, but that hopes that it will be available this year hinged on how quickly late-stage trials could be completed, given the dwindling prevalence of the virus in Britain.

FILE PHOTO: An employee is seen at the Reference Center for Special Immunobiologicals (CRIE) of the Federal University of Sao Paulo (Unifesp) where the trials of the Oxford/AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine are conducted, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, June 24, 2020. REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

Late-stage trials are under way in Brazil and South Africa and are due to start in the United States, where prevalence is higher.

TARGETING TWO DOSES

The trial results showed a stronger immune response in 10 people given an extra dose of the vaccine after 28 days, echoing a trial in pigs.

Oxford’s Gilbert said the early-stage trial could not determine whether one or two doses would be needed to provide immunity.

“It may be that we don’t need two doses, but we want to know what we can achieve,” she told reporters.

AstraZeneca’s biopharma chief, Mene Pangalos, said the firm was leaning towards a two-dose strategy for later-stage trials, and did not want to risk a single or lower dose that might not work.

Slideshow (2 Images)

The antibody levels generated were “in the region” of those seen in convalescent patients, he said.

The trial included 1,077 healthy adults aged 18-55 years with no history of COVID-19. Researchers said the vaccine caused minor side effects more frequently than a control group, but some of these could be reduced by taking the painkiller paracetamol, which is also known as acetaminophen.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; additional reporting by Pushkala Aripaka and Kate Kelland; Editing by Edmund Blair, Mark Potter, Carmel Crimmins and Timothy Heritage

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human picks

NASA picks new head of human spaceflight as astronaut launches return to US soil – CNN

New York (CNN Business)NASA has a new head of human spaceflight — a hugely important role to fill as the space agency returns astronaut launches to US soil and works toward landing the humans on the Moon for the first time in five decades.

Kathy Lueders, who has spent 28 years at NASA, will lead the agency’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, or HEO, NASA announced Friday. She will be the first woman ever to fill the role.
NASA’s previous chief of human spaceflight, Doug Loverro, abruptly resigned from the space agency last month, citing a “mistake” he had made earlier this year. CNN Business previously reported that Loverro’s departure was related to contracts that were awarded for the development of lunar landers, or vehicles that can carry astronauts to the moon’s surface, according to a source familiar with the matter.
Lueders’ appointment comes after she spent seven years leading NASA’s Commercial Crew program, a first-of-its-kind effort in which NASA asked the private sector to develop spacecraft capable of carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Lueders’ leadership of that program culminated in the historic success of SpaceX’s Demo-2 launch last month, which carried NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley to the space station. It marked the first time humans have traveled into orbit from US soil since NASA’s Space Shuttle program ended in 2011.
The Commercial Crew Program is part of the HEO, but in her new role Lueders will also oversee NASA’s Artemis program — an ambitious effort announced by the Trump administration last year to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024. NASA had been working to put spaceboots on the Moon later this decade. The accelerated timeline has been widely criticized as unrealistic, given ongoing delays with the rocket NASA plans to use for the mission and the need to develop a lunar lander.
Relying more heavily on contracts similar to the ones Lueders oversaw under the Commercial Crew Program is at the core of NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine’s plans to make the Moon mission a reality.
“This is such a critical time for the agency and for HEO. We still need to bring Doug and Bob home safely and we’re not going to lose focus,” Bridenstine said in a statement, referring to astronauts Hurley and Behnken, who are slated to return home from the ISS in the next few months.
But, Bridenstine added, “we have our sights set on the Moon and even deeper into space, and Kathy is going to help lead us there.”
Steve Stich, the former deputy manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew program, will now lead the commercial crew program. He’ll continue working with SpaceX as the company gears up to take four more astronauts — three from NASA and one astronaut with Japan’s space agency — to the ISS later this year. He’ll also oversee ongoing development of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft, which suffered a significant setback during a botched test flight in December. Ken Bowersox, who served as acting head of human spaceflight after Loverro’s departure, will return to his role as the HEO’s deputy associate administrator.
NASA’s Office of the Inspector General announced an audit of the agency’s acquisition strategy for the Artemis program in March.
As Bridenstine works to sell members of Congress on NASA’s game plan for returning to the Moon, Lueders’ success with the SpaceX Demo-2 mission could help garner support for NASA’s efforts to rely on commercial partnerships more extensively.
Before Lueders took control of the Commercial Crew Program in 2013, she held roles managing the Space Shuttle Program’s maneuvering systems and later oversaw NASA’s commercial cargo resupply services, the precursor to the Commercial Crew Program.

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chief human

NASA’s new chief of human spaceflight has a commercial background – Ars Technica

Commercial Moon? —

“I’m a big fan of Kathy Lueders!”


NASA's Kathy Lueders celebrates Crew Dragon's hatch opening on May 31.

Enlarge / NASA’s Kathy Lueders celebrates Crew Dragon’s hatch opening on May 31.

NASA

On Friday morning, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced that he had selected Kathy Lueders to serve as the space agency’s new chief of human spaceflight. In this position, she will help set human spaceflight policy and implement it across the agency. Her top mandate will be getting humans to the Moon by 2024, or soon thereafter.

“Kathy gives us the extraordinary experience and passion we need to continue to move forward with Artemis and our goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024,” Bridenstine said. “Kathy’s the right person to extend the space economy to the lunar vicinity and achieve the ambitious goals we’ve been given.”

As program manager for Commercial Crew—which recently saw SpaceX launch NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station—Lueders has led the one big-ticket program for the space agency that has delivered for Bridenstine. Other high-profile programs, including the Space Launch System rocket and James Webb Space Telescope, have continued to experience delays.

Several sources indicated that this hire is consistent with Bridenstine’s view that commercial space companies will play an increasingly important role in human space exploration going forward. Bridenstine has been pushing NASA to do more of its bidding on the basis of fixed price contracts and favoring bidders that also invest in their own hardware and seek to sell their spaceflight services to customers other than NASA.

As leader of the commercial crew program, Lueders was deliberative. But she also recognized the cultural differences between NASA and companies like SpaceX, which seek to move quickly. In the end, she successfully molded the disparate workforces of NASA and SpaceX into a cohesive team that culminated in a mission that has been successful to date.

I’m a big fan of Kathy Lueders!

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 22, 2020

Steve Stich, her deputy, will step up to become the commercial crew program manager.

Lueders will replace Doug Loverro, who resigned from NASA a little more than three weeks ago. As Ars reported shortly after the fact, Loverro left NASA after he improperly intervened in the contracting process for a Human Landing System to take astronauts down to the lunar surface. NASA’s inspector general has not yet completed his report, but Loverro is believed to have spoken with Boeing during a black-out period of the bid process.

Loverro had worked at NASA for only about six months. Before him, Bill Gerstenmaier had spent about a decade in the position, superintending the end of the space shuttle program and final assembly of the International Space Station and trying to chart a deep space program. Several months after Gerstenmaier’s departure, he took at job at SpaceX working as an engineer on the company’s human spaceflight vehicles. Sources say he is happy there, enjoying being outside the Beltway and tackling technical challenges.

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human spaceflight

NASA’s human spaceflight chief resigns a week before the first launch of astronauts in a decade – The Washington Post

Douglas Loverro, the head of human spaceflight for NASA, abruptly resigned on Monday, after six months on the job and days before the agency is scheduled to launch astronauts for the first time since the space shuttle retired in 2011.

Loverro’s resignation comes at a critical time — two days before he was to lead a critical “launch readiness review” meeting that would determine whether SpaceX should proceed to launch two NASA astronauts on a test mission to the International Space Station.

A longtime Pentagon official, Loverro was seen as a calm and immensely capable executive who would not only help the agency restore human spaceflight from U.S. soil as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, but also push NASA to meet a White House mandate to return astronauts to the moon by 2024.

Two people with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the personnel matter said his resignation was spurred when Loverro broke a rule during NASA’s recent procurement of a spacecraft capable of landing humans on the moon.

In an email he wrote to top NASA officials that was obtained by The Washington Post, Loverro wrote that NASA’s mission “is certainly not easy, nor for the faint of heart, and risk-taking is part of the job description.”

He wrote that he took “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.”

In an interview, Loverro declined to discuss the exact details of why he resigned.

“It had nothing to do with commercial crew,” he said. “It had to do with moving fast on Artemis, and I don’t want to characterize it in any more detail than that.” Artemis is NASA’s program to return people to the moon.

Last month, NASA awarded three contracts, worth nearly $1 billion combined, to a team led by Blue Origin, a team led by Dynetics and to SpaceX. (Blue Origin is owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post.)

Loverro said there were “no sour grapes” and that he holds “NASA in great respect. I hope they can continue on everything they started and will follow through on their plans.”

On May 27, SpaceX is scheduled to launch two NASA astronauts on a test flight of the Dragon spacecraft to the space station. In a statement Tuesday, NASA indicated the launch would proceed without delay.

“Next week will mark the beginning of a new era in human spaceflight with the launch of NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station,” the agency said. “This test flight will be a historic and momentous occasion that will see the return of human spaceflight to our country, and the incredible dedication by the men and women of NASA is what has made this mission possible.”

The statement did not say what led to Loverro’s resignation.

Earlier in the day, Vice President Pence praised NASA for “renewing American leadership in space” and said he was looking forward to the launch. He and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine gave no indication of the shakeup.

The news sent shock waves through the space community, and there were concerns over whether NASA should proceed with the launch in the wake of such a tumultuous development.

In a statement to The Post, Bridenstine said he had “full confidence” in Kathy Lueders, the NASA Commercial Crew Program manager. He added that the agency’s “leadership, SpaceX and NASA’s team of engineers and experienced human spaceflight professionals have reviewed the Commercial Crew Program regularly for years.”

Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s associate administrator, will chair the readiness review meeting on Thursday. Loverro said he thought “it was absolutely safe to proceed.” He added he had “100 percent faith” in Jurczyk. “I would trust him with every ounce of that mission’s performance.”

NASA said that Ken Bowersox, currently the deputy associate administrator for human exploration, would take over Loverro’s job in an acting capacity. Bowersox previously held the position after Bridenstine demoted William Gerstenmaier, a NASA veteran who later resigned and now works for SpaceX.

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