Russia fires top space official over launch failures

September 3, 2012

Russian President Vladimir Putin has fired the chief of a key state-run aerospace bureau following several launch failures, the Kremlin said Monday.

The head of the Khrunichev space centre, Vladimir Nesterov, has been relieved of his duties, said a decree dated August 31 and published on the Kremlin website Monday.

Nesterov, 63, had been the general director of Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre since 2005. The Moscow-based establishment is Russia's largest aerospace company, which produces and launches the .

Russia's Prime Minister last month called on space officials to answer for losing 10 satellites in one-and-a-half years, saying at a government meeting that the string of failures "weakens the reputation of Russia as a leading space nation."

Nesterov reportedly asked to be allowed to resign following the August 14 meeting.

In Russia's most recent space failure, two satellites were lost after the unsuccessful launch of a Proton-M rocket on August 6, which missed the correct orbit. The —the Russian Express-MD2 and the Indonesian Telkom-3—never made contact.

A commission later found a problem with Briz-M, the upper-stage used with the Proton-M rocket, and ordered inspections on the entire Briz-M production line, putting future launches on hold.

Medvedev said the loss "threw billions of rubles into the wind".

Russia's space programme has been beset by a litany of technical problems which have resulted in the loss of a half-dozen satellites and vehicles over the past year, including a Progress cargo vessel bound for the .

Explore further: Russian firm besieged with rocket orders

Related Stories

Russia launches US satellites in third attempt

July 13, 2011

A Russian Soyuz rocket successfully carried six US Globalstar satellites into orbit on Wednesday after postponing the launch twice earlier this week, Russia's space agency said.

Russia grounds rockets after launch failure

August 23, 2011

Russia on Tuesday grounded its workhorse Proton-M rockets after the latest in a string of launch mishaps put a prized telecommunications satellite into the wrong orbit.

Russia launches navigation satellites

November 4, 2011

Russia on Friday successfully launched three satellites for its global navigation system Glonass on a Proton-M rocket from its Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the Russian space agency said.

Recommended for you

Galaxies show appetite for growth

August 4, 2015

The extent to which galaxies consume one another has been revealed in research. Findings from the study help to explain how galaxies such as the Milky Way were formed.

Will SETI's unprecedented new program finally find E.T.?

August 4, 2015

Stephen Hawking, Frank Drake and dozens of journalists gathered at the Royal Society in London last week to hear astronomers announce a ground-breaking new project to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life called "Breakthrough ...

Tracking a mysterious group of asteroid outcasts

August 4, 2015

High above the plane of our solar system, near the asteroid-rich abyss between Mars and Jupiter, scientists have found a unique family of space rocks. These interplanetary oddballs are the Euphrosyne (pronounced you-FROH-seh-nee) ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.