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Khrunichev Head Resigns One Day After Medvedev Meeting

Marcia S. Smith
Posted: 15-Aug-2012
Updated: 15-Aug-2012 09:41 PM

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev yesterday gave Russian cabinet and space industry officials one month to come up with a plan to improve Russia's space program in the wake of the Proton launch failure last week.   Today, the head of the company that builds the Proton rocket resigned. 

At a high level meeting yesterday with Cabinet and space industry officials, Medvedev reportedly said the country's seven launch failures since December 2010 weaken the country's image as a space power according to Russia's RIA Novosti.  It quotes Medvedev as saying that the situation in Russia's space program today represents a "colossal difference" from other major spacefaring nations.  Medvedev gave meeting participants one month to come up with "practical steps" to fix Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, and the space industry, adding that he wants to know who is responsible for the failures and "establish the level of responsibility for those guilty."

Apparently one of those already has been identified.   Vladimir Nesterov, head of the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, resigned today.  Khrunichev builds the Proton rocket as well as the Briz upper stage that failed to place two satellites into geostationary orbit on August  7.   It also built one of the two satellites, which now are stranded in their transfer orbit.   Another Proton-Briz combination failed almost exactly a year ago.  Both were launching Ekspress communications satellites for Russia itself.  Last week's launch also included an Indonesian telecommunications satellite built by Russia's Reshetnev Space Company.

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