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‘Russian space agency needs reforms’

Russia: Vladimir Popovkin, Head of the Russian space agency (Roscosmos) said that recent failed launches were a reflection of the agency’s management problems. He was speaking on the sidelines of the Arctic Dialogue conference in the northern Russia city of Archangelsk.

Popovkin said, “We have found the causes of the failures and we are trying to identify the people who are responsible. But the troubles go much deeper to the level of management and control within the organisation. Roscosmos needs changes. I wouldn’t say drastic changes, but it should be reformed nonetheless.”

The Russian aerospace industry has faced a series of failed mission over the last nine months. In December, 2010, a Proton-M booster rocket failed to put three Glonass-M satellites into orbit. The launch of the Rokot booster rocket carrying a military geodesic satellite Geo-IK-2 ended in failure in February. After the first two mishaps, a number of senior space industry officials were fired and Roscosmos’s chief, Anatoly Perminov, was forced to resign.

However, the problems persisted as the aerospace industry failed to manufacture the planned number of spacecraft and incidents with the launches continued. On August 18, a Russian Proton-M rocket lost a prized Express-AM4 satellite that was designed to provide digital television and secure government communications for Siberia and the Far East.

One week after the Express-AM4 went off course, a Soyuz-U booster malfunctioned, preventing the Progress M-12M cargo spacecraft from reaching orbit. Its debris fell in south Siberia’s Altai Republic.

The loss of Glonass satellites alone cost the state USD 152.2 million.

Source: RIA Novosti