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Russian space enterprise CEO dismissed over first Vostochny launch delay

May 13, 14:34 UTC+3 KOROLEV (Moscow region)
The Progress State Research and Production Rocket Space Center has accepted Leonid Shalimov's resignation
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© Press office of the Roscosmos Russian Federal Space Agency/TASS

KOROLEV (Moscow region), May 13. /TASS/. Resignation of Director General of the Research and Production Association of Automatics (NPO Automatics) Leonid Shalimov has been accepted, he is dismissed, head of the Progress State Research and Production Rocket Space Center that includes the Ural enterprise, Alexander Kirilin, said on Friday.

"Yes, we held a meeting of the board of directors, accepted the resignation", he said.

Kirilin declined to name Shalimov’s successor. According to previous reports, Mikhail Trapeznikov is so far acting head of NPO Automatics.

The news that Shalimov submitted a resignation notice came on May 5. Prior to this, Shalimov received a service incompetence note for the postponement of the first launch of the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket from the Vostochny cosmodrome. Head of Russia’s State Space Corporation (Roscosmos) Igor Komarov and Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the national rocket and space industry, were also reprimanded then.

The Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket was supposed to be launched from the Vostochny cosmodrome in the morning on April 27, but the launch was canceled by the automatic system. The blastoff took place a day later - on April 28. The incident was caused by problems with a cable of the rocket’s control system for which NPO Automatics was responsible. Roscosmos head Komarov said then that the glitch "was caused most likely by a cable malfunction." Later, the Izvestia newspaper reported, citing a source in the Roscosmos leadership that the cable was made not by the design documentation and "lacked several required jumpers."

During the April 28 launch, from Vostochny, the Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket orbited the SamSat-218, Aist-2D and Mikhailo Lomonosov satellites.

A week later, a source in the national rocket and space industry told TASS that contact with the nanosatellite was lost. The Samara State Aerospace University later confirmed this information.

The Vostochny spaceport is being built near the town of Uglegorsk in the Amur Region, Russia’s Far East. Construction work began in 2010. Vostochny has become the first national civilian cosmodrome that will ensure Russia’s full access to space.

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