Russian Prime Minister Fires Head of Space Agency

Oleg Ostapenko Replaces Vladimir Popovkin as Roscosmos Head
Oleg Ostapenko (left), a former commander of the Russian Space Forces, is replacing Vladimir Popovkin (right) as director-general of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency. (Image credit: Russian Defense Ministry/Roscosmos)

MOSCOW — Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Oct. 10 named Oleg Ostapenko, a former commander of the Russian Space Forces, as the new director-general of the Russian Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos.

Ostapenko, who up until his new assignment was Russia’s deputy defense minister, replaces Vladimir Popovkin, who is leaving after his attempts to turn around a space industry plagued by launch failures had little success.

Medvedev made clear he has high expectations for Ostapenko.

“I hope that a whole number of problems, which unfortunately have lately been observed in Roscosmos activities, will be overcome with your arrival,” Medvedev said in a meeting with Ostapenko, a transcript of which was posted on the Russian Cabinet’s website. “I hope that all launches, including future ones, will be carried out in accordance with plans.”

Ostapenko became commander of the Russian Space Forces in June 2008 and served in that capacity until being promoted to deputy defense minister in November 2012.

His latest assignment follows a series of embarrassments for the Russian space program, the latest being the crash of a Proton rocket carrying three Glonass navigation satellites just seconds after liftoff in July. That failure has since been attributed to improperly installed motion sensors on the vehicle.

This story was provided by SpaceNews, dedicated to covering all aspects of the space industry.

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