Russia deputy PM blasts 'childish' space agency
Moscow (AFP) Feb 28, 2011
Russian space agency Roskosmos has committed "childish" errors and failed to build enough spacecraft, the government said Monday in an unprecedented rebuke to the Russian equivalent of NASA.
Russia's powerful Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov issued the dressing down at a meeting with Roskosmos's leadership after two satellite launches ended in partial or complete failure in the last three months.
In December three Glonass navigation satellites ended up plummeting into the Pacific off the US state of Hawaii after launch due to what officials concluded was a simple fuel miscalculation.
And this month Russia put its new Geo-IK-2 military satellite into the wrong orbit, rendering it useless for defence purposes.
"The recent failure with the Glonass satellites is a characteristic example," Ivanov said. "I won't go into details, this was a mistake, but a childish one and a mistake that had serious consequences."
"Any repeat of the mistakes of the recent past -- and I am referring to the loss of the Glonass satellites and the partial Geo-IK failure -- is of course unacceptable," he warned, quoted by Russian news agencies.
The failures have been particularly painful as Russia gears up to celebrate in April the 50th anniversary of Yury Gagarin becoming the first man in space, still seen as one of the most important achievements in its history.
Ivanov said that the failed launch of the Glonass satellites alone had cost Russia 2.5 billion rubles ($86 million, 63 million euros).
Meanwhile, Ivanov said that Roskosmos had failed meet its goals in the production of spacecraft and rockets, saying that in 2010 it produced only five out of the 11 spacecraft it was supposed to make.
He said that six spacecraft for civilian purposes had failed to launch in 2010 due to the delays.
"And I am not even talking about the systematic delays to launch dates which were a consequence of the spacecraft not being ready," he added.
Russia on Saturday successfully launched a Glonass satellite from its northern Plesetsk launchpad, restoring some pride after the catastrophic December launch.
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