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Russia sacks space officials over failed GLONASS launch

A file photo.

MOSCOW (PTI): Russian President Dmitry Medvedev Wednesday sacked two senior space industry officials and reprimanded the head of the space agency over the failed launch of three GLONASS navigation satellites earlier this month.

Medvedev dismissed Energia's chief rocket and space systems designer Vyacheslav Filin and the head of Roskosmos, the space agency and deputy head of Roskosmos, Viktor Remishevsky on the basis of state investigation commission report, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

He also reprimanded the agency's chief Roskosmos Anatoly Perminov. The failures hit the Kremlin's plans to restore national space network at the earliest to end dependence on the Pentagon controlled GPS.

The three GLONASS satellites plunged into the Pacific Ocean shortly after blastoff from Baikonur cosmodrome on December 5.

A Proton-M space launch vehicle (SLV) equipped with a DM-3 booster, designed and manufactured by the Energia Space Corporation.

The commission concluded that Energia experts miscalculated how much fuel was needed for the DM-3 rocket booster.

As a result, the amount of oxidant exceeded the norm by 1-1.5 tons and excessive weight prevented the Proton-M rocket from putting the satellites into their calculated orbit, RIA Novosti reported.

In addition, the company's management did not follow all the necessary pre-launch safety procedures and failed to spot the mistake in calculations, the commission reported.

The failed launch of the Proton-M SLV slightly marred Medvedev's India visit earlier this month as Moscow was to formally announce opening of GLONASS military signals for the Indian Armed Forces on the global scale to end dependenace on the US NAVSTAR global positioning system.

To make up the loss Russia has switched on two reserve GLONASS-M satellites in orbit to compensate for the ones that were lost.

Roskosmos plans to complete the grouping of 24 operational GLONASS satellites by April next year.


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