Rogozin Takes Charge of Russian Space Program

Rogozin Takes Charge of Russian Space Program

At a meeting with the head of the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) today, newly appointed Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin took firm steps to find out what is wrong in the Russian space program.

Rogozin ordered Roscosmos director Vladimir Popovkin to present a final report on the space program’s recent woes by January 25, 2012.  He also took other steps to find out what the problems are in the space program and how to remedy them.  Usually reliable Russian launch vehicles have failed six times in the last 12 months, including five in 2011.  The most recent doomed a Russian Meridian military communications satellite.   A commercial launch of the venerable Proton rocket has been delayed until late January because of technical problems discovered just before launch earlier this week.

According to Russia’s news agency Itar-Tass, Rogozin directed Vladimir Popovkin, who became head of Roscosmos this spring, to report on his agency’s analysis of the recent launch vehicle failures by January 25.  The report will go to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin subsequently.   Putin put Rogozin in charge of the space sector on Monday.  Rogozin, formerly Russia’s ambassador to NATO, was recently made a deputy prime minister and assigned to identify and remediate problems in the defense and atomic energy industries.  Monday’s action added space to his portfolio.

Rogozin also gave Roscosmos 50 days to prepare a “strategy of space sector development to 2030 and later,” according to Popovkin. 

Rogozin and Popovkin furthermore reportedly agreed to create a “personnel reserve” for the space program in response to concerns that the aging industrial workforce is at least partially to blame for recent failures.  Rogozin intends to hold a meeting with representatives of leading academic institutions associated with the space, defense and nuclear power industries on January 23, apparently to discuss how to encourage students to study these fields.

Rogozin also reacted angrily today to reports that Russian bloggers had breached security and infiltrated one of Russia’s aerospace companies, Energomash, over several days, photographing the deteriorating facility.  Calling the bloggers “cheeky mice,” he said that he did not “advise anybody to penetrate strategic installations anymore,” according to Russian news agency RIA Novosti, which also cited a senior vice president of Energia as saying that the “Energomash plant can be accessed through holes in the fence, which it has no money to repair….”

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