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Leadership to be replaced in Russia’s space industry

October 07, 2013, 11:30 UTC+3

The Roskosmos head’s resignation is likely to be announced officially as early as Tuesday

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MOSCOW, October 7 (Itar-Tass) - The Kommersant daily has learnt that Russia’s presidential administration and the government have agreed on the candidates for the posts of the heads of the Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) and the Unified Rocket and Space Corporation (ORKK). According to the newspaper’s sources, the first post of is to be taken by Deputy Defense Minister Oleg Ostapenko, the second - by Director of the AvtoVAZ plant Igor Komarov. He will take charge of the country’s entire rocket and space industry and it is the ORKK head that will play a key role in the sector’s development. The current head of the Space Agency, Vladimir Popovkin, who insists on a different version of the Roskosmos reform, will be relieved of his duties.

They started to talk with confidence that Vladimir Popovkin would resign in mid-September, when Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin who supervises the space industry asked Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev for additional time to finalize the Roskosmos draft reform and present the candidates for the posts of the heads of Roskosmos and ORKK. The sense of the reform, the newspaper writes, is the factual division of Roskosmos into two parts: the agency will be responsible for the state policy in the space sphere and act as the state customer, and the corporation will unite the majority of the industry’s enterprises, assuming the functions of the general contractor. As for Popovkin, he regarded the separation of Roskosmos into an agency and ORKK as initially incorrect.

Vladimir Popovkin’s position was also weakened by the major incidents that occurred over the past 2.5 years: in particular, the Meridian, Phobos-Grunt, GLONASS, Express-AM4 and Express-MD2 satellites were lost, also there was the first in almost 30 years crash of the Progress M-12M cargo spacecraft. Despite the fact that Popovkin was not directly to blame for any of the incidents (the crashed satellites and fallen rockets had been assembled during the former Roskosmos head, Anatoly Perminov), Dmitry Medvedev criticized Popovkin. On August 2, the RF prime minister gave the Roskosmos head a reprimand “for the improper performance of duties.”

The Roskosmos head’s resignation is likely to be announced officially as early as Tuesday, the newspaper believes.

According to a Kommersant source in the presidential administration, Vladimir Putin has looked through the submitted draft reform of the industry. The draft has not evoked the president’s fundamental criticism. It can be assumed that the decree “On the Open Joint Stock Company Unified Rocket and Space Corporation” will be signed shortly. 

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