Report: Popovkin Out as Head of Roscosmos as Industry Reorg Begins

Roscosmos Head Vladimir Popovkin. (Credit: Roscosmos)
Roscosmos Head Vladimir Popovkin. (Credit: Roscosmos)

It looks like the end of the line for beleaguered Roscosmos chief Vladimor Popovkin, whose two-year reign over the Russian space agency has fallen victim to multiple launch failures and a major industry reorganization they spawned. ITAR-TASS reports:

The Kommersant daily has learnt that Russia’s presidential administration and the government have agreed on the candidates for the posts of the heads of the Federal Space Agency (Roskosmos) and the Unified Rocket and Space Corporation (ORKK). According to the newspaper’s sources, the first post of is to be taken by Deputy Defense Minister Oleg Ostapenko, the second by Director of the AvtoVAZ plant Igor Komarov. He will take charge of the country’s entire rocket and space industry and it is the ORKK head that will play a key role in the sector’s development. The current head of the Space Agency, Vladimir Popovkin, who insists on a different version of the Roskosmos reform, will be relieved of his duties….

The Roskosmos head’s resignation is likely to be announced officially as early as Tuesday, the newspaper believes.

According to a Kommersant source in the presidential administration, Vladimir Putin has looked through the submitted draft reform of the industry. The draft has not evoked the president’s fundamental criticism. It can be assumed that the decree “On the Open Joint Stock Company Unified Rocket and Space Corporation” will be signed shortly.

Popovkin was appointed head of Roscomos in April 2011 after a series of launch failures led to the retirement of his predecessor, Anatoly Perminov. The failures continued under Popovkin’s reign despite the change and an enormous amount of attention paid to trying to fix the problems of the Russian space industry.

Earlier this year, officials decided to re-organize the space industry under one company overseen by a strengthened and expanded Roscosmos.

Wikipedia has the following biography of reported new Roscosmos boss Oleg Ostapenko, which is excerpted below:

Oleg_Ostapenko (Credit:
Oleg_Ostapenko (Credit:

Oleg Nikolayevich Ostapenko (born 3 May 1957) is a Colonel General in the Russian Military, Deputy Minister of Defence, and former commander of the Aerospace Defence Forces, a position he held from their foundation on 1 December 2011 until his promotion in November 2012. Prior to this he was commander of the Russian Space Forces from 2008, replacing Vladimir Popovkin….

In 2004 he was promoted to be First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Russian Space Forces and after undertaking a PhD in military sciences he became the commander of Plesetsk Cosmodrome in 2007. A year later on 30 June 2008 he was promoted to be commander of the Russian Space Forces replacing Vladimir Popovkin who became a Deputy Defence Minister. He was commander of the Aerospace Defence Forces from 1 December 2011 to 9 November 2012 and was promoted to the rank of Colonel General on 9 August 2012. On 9 November 2012 he was appointed as a Deputy Minister of Defence and relieved of his command of the Aerospace Defence Forces.

The Russia Forum also has the following biography of Komarov, who is reported to take over the new ORKK:

Igor Komarov (Credit: The Russia Forum)

Igor Komarov has been President of AvtoVAZ since August 2009. He joined AvtoVAZ in May 2009 as Executive Vice President of Strategy, Finance, Economic and Corporate Governance.

He began his career as an Engineer at the Russian Academy of Sciences in the Institute of Economic Studies of Scientific and Technological Development. Mr Komarov then held several senior positions in the banking sphere from 1992 to 2002: he was First Vice President of Inkombank, First Vice President of the National Reserve Bank and Deputy Chairman of the BoD at Sberbank. From 2002 to 2008, he was Deputy General Director of Economics and Finance at Norilsk Nickel. In 2008, he took a position as Advisor to the General Director of Rostechnologies.

He graduated from Moscow State University with a degree in Economics.