Former astronaut Ken Bowersox has left SpaceX, Space News reports.
SpaceX confirmed Bowersox, the company's former vice president of astronaut safety and mission assurance, had left the company late last year.
The high-level departure comes as SpaceX prepares for an important demonstration flight of its unmanned Dragon capsule to the International Space Station, which had been targeted for Feb. 7 but now appears to be delayed for weeks, possibly after the planned March flight of Europe's ATV-3 cargo vehicle.
If the demonstration is successful, SpaceX would begin delivering cargo to the station under a $1.6 billion NASA commercial cargo resupply contract.
SpaceX is also working to upgrade Dragon for human missions under NASA's Commercial Crew Development program.
Former astronaut Garrett Reisman joined the comapny a year ago as a senior engineer working on that effort, and is still with the company.
SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Grantham said Bowersox's responsibilities had been split up among "a few different people." Hans Koenigsmann, launch chief engineer, was named vice president of mission assurance.
"We are grateful for the sacrifices Ken had made the last two years as he traveled each week between Houston, Texas, where his family lives and SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif.," Grantham told FLORIDA TODAY. "Ken is an American hero. We appreciate his service to the country and the contributions he made at SpaceX."
IMAGE: On April 5, 2003, astronaut Kenneth D. Bowersox, Expedition 6 mission commander, holds a camera prior to photographing the topography of a point on Earth from the nadir window in the Destiny laboratory on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA.