December 29, 2010

Roscosmos Officials Fired Over Failed GLONASS Launch

A failed rocket launch that delayed the deployment of Russia's answer to the US Global Positioning System (GPS) has led to the firings of two top officials in that country's space program, various media outlets reported Wednesday.

Russian space agency (Roscosmos) deputy head Viktor Remishevsky and Vyacheslav Filin, Vice President of the state controlled RKK Energiya were terminated as a result of a botched December 5 launch in which a Proton-M booster rocket failed to reach its initial orbit. That failure resulted in three high-tech GLONASS-M navigation satellites being dumped near the Hawaiian Islands, according to AFP.

According to the Associated Press (AP), "An investigation has revealed that the failure was caused by a calculations error that resulted in excessive fuel being pumped into the carrier's upper stage." The AP also reports that Roscosmos chief Anatony Perminov was reprimanded for the setback, and that Russian officials warned the agency to be more careful in its calculations moving forward.

"On the Russian president's instructions, Roscosmos will undertake additional measures to strengthen its performance discipline," Kremlin officials said in a statement, according to AFP.

Development on GLONASS, which is an acronym for 'GLObal'naya NAvigatsionnaya Sputnikovaya Sistema' (or 'Global Navigation Satellite System' in English), began back in the mid 1970s. Earlier this year, the system reportedly achieved 100% coverage of Russia and its territories, though the 'M' series satellite were to upgrade the system.

In related news on Wednesday, Roscosmos announced that the GLONASS system would be used to assist with the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. According to the space agency's official website, they will be establishing a Logistics Data Center that "will provide the opportunity to limit transport expenses, improve services and to reduce ecological load of the region due to application of the GLONASS technologies."


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