CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA’s chief of human exploration has resigned just days before the first astronaut launch in nearly a decade from Kennedy Space Center.

The space agency notified employees of the news Tuesday.

READ MORE: Kaiser Members Given Less Than Recommended Dose of Pfizer COVID Vaccine At Walnut Creek Facility

Douglas Loverro, whose resignation took effect Monday, joined NASA last October. He is a former Defense Department and National Reconnaissance Office manager, specializing in space security matters for three decades.

NASA spokesman Bob Jacobs would only say Loverro decided to resign and, beyond that, the agency cannot discuss personnel issues.

READ MORE: Massive Ash Cloud Turns Tonga Into Moonscape; Anxiety Mounts Among Bay Area Tongans

The announcement comes just eight days before SpaceX attempts to launch its first astronauts under NASA’s commercial crew program. Liftoff is scheduled for May 27.

Besides overseeing SpaceX and Boeing’s effort to ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station, Loverro was in charge of NASA’s Artemis moon-landing program. Just 2 1/2 weeks ago, NASA announced the three winning corporate teams that will develop lunar landers for astronauts.

MORE NEWS: Timo Meier Becomes First San Jose Shark to Score 5 Goals in One Game

Former space shuttle commander Ken Bowersox, Loverro’s deputy, will resume his role as acting associate administrator of human exploration and operations.