Deputy Prime Minister Slams Roscosmos for Errors

Roscosmos is weathering severe criticism for losing four satellites over the last two months and delays in producing new spacecraft, AFP reports:

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….

Meanwhile, Ivanov said that Roskosmos had failed to 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.

In December, a Proton rocket carrying three GLONASS navigation satellites failed due excessive fuel in the upper transfer stage. The failure was deeply embarrassing to the Russian government because the satellites would have completed the high-profile navigational constellation, which is designed to compete with the American GPS system. A furious Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev fired a deputy Roscosmos head and a high-ranking official at RSC Energia.

Last month, a malfunction in an upper stage stranded the Russian military’s Geo-IK satellite in the wrong orbit, rendering it useless for defense purposes. Officials have declared the vehicle to be a loss.

This is not the first time that Ivanov has criticized the Russian space agency for sloppy work. Two years ago, he ripped into officials over their testing a new military missile:

Russian Vice Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov has criticized Roscosmos for its handling of the test launches of the strategic ballistic missile Bulava. At a meeting of the Federal Space Agency, Ivanov said that such tests must be real, rather than substituted by theoretical modeling, the Mayak radio station reported.

Ivanov asked Roscosmos’ management to pay more attention to flight engineering tests and move closer to the serial production of the Bulava.

Ivanov called on Roscosmos to increase efficiency in its test launches of the Bulava, the Ria Novosti agency reported. “The attention given to ground preparation of the components of the Bulava is insufficient. It is not uncommon that real tests are substituted by mathematical calculations proving that the device meets technical requirements,” Ivanov said.

It will be interesting to see if the fallout from the most recent failures blows over or if it endangers the position of Roscosmos Head Anatoly Perminov, who has led the space agency since March 2004.