Putin Dismisses Khrunichev General Director Amid Plans for Deeper Reforms

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc Managing Editor

Russian Ruler-for-Life Vladimir Putin has dismissed Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center General Director Vladimir Nesterov in the wake of last month’s failed launch of a Proton rocket, which stranded two communications satellites in useless orbits.

Russian media report that the Russian president accepted Nesterov’s resignation. Russia has experienced seven launch failures over the past two years, several of which can be tied to failures of Khrunichev produced upper stages.

Media reports said that Nesterov tendered his resignation a week after the Aug. 7 launch failure. However, a statement from Khrunichev said Nesterov remained on the job and could only be dismissed by Putin.

The dismissal occurred after Putin had a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin and Roscosmos Director General Vladimir Popovkin to discuss reforms to the space sector. Last month, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had given Roscosmos until the middle of September to develop a plan.

The Kremlin released a transcripts of remarks made by Putin at the meeting:

PUTIN: Good afternoon.

I want to discuss with you the space sector’s development and the structural problems in the sector. We know such problems exist, because otherwise we would not be facing the various difficulties with launches for various purposes, that we have encountered over what is now a lengthy period of time. Some of these failures have concerned not just our spacecraft, but also our international obligations.

We have discussed this issue on numerous occasions. I think the problems lie in the sector’s structural organisation. I would like to hear your proposals for improving the sector’s organisation. If personnel decisions are needed, make these proposals, too.

One decision, as you know, has already been taken: the decision regarding the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center. We should analyse the work with partner companies and carefully structure and improve the entire regulatory and legal base for the industry’s operation in general.

I await your proposals.