Medvedev fires space chiefs after satellite launch failure
President Dmitry Medvedev on Wednesday fired two top space officials and reprimanded the space agency chief after a launch failure caused Russia to delay the deployment of its own navigation system.
This month’s failed launch of three Glonass-M orbiters marked a humiliating setback to the country’s efforts to introduce a global rival to the US Global Positioning System (GPS).
A presidential statement said Energia Vice President Vyacheslav Filin and Roskosmos deputy head Viktor Remishevsky had been fired for “the mistakes made in the fuel calculations”.
The Russian Proton-M rocket failed to reach its initial orbit during the December 5 launch, causing it to dump the three high-tech Glonass-M satellites near the Hawaii Islands.
The brief statement also said Medvedev had reprimanded Roskosmos chief Anatoly Perminov and order the agency to be more careful in its future work.
“On the Russian president’s instructions, Roskosmos will undertake additional measures to strengthen its performance discipline,” the Kremlin statement said.
The satellites would have completed a system whose research had been begun by the Soviet Union in 1976 before being interrupted and then picked up again by the country’s president-turned premier Vladimir Putin.
Russia’s de-facto number one has vowed to place Glonass readers on every car made in Russia by 2012 and hailed the system as an example of how the country can claw back its Soviet-era technological might.
Medvedev immediately ordered a probe into the accident and a government commission this month concluded that it was caused by a fuel miscalculation that essentially made the rocket too heavy to reach orbit.
The Kremlin said the findings moved Medvedev to make the changes.