April 6, 2011

Head of Russian Space Agency To Step Down

Anatoly Perminov, the head of Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, has announced he will be stepping down as he has reached the mandatory retirement age of 65 allowed for state officials.

Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov was quoted as saying, "Anatoly Nikolayevich Perminov is 65. According to Russian law, no state official can work once he is over this age," AFP is reporting.

"Whether it is April 15, April 20 or April 30, I don't see any big difference," said Ivanov, adding that in any eventuality NASA administrator Charles Bolden will have a counterpart to meet when he visits Russia next week.

The news of Perminov's departure comes at an odd time just as Russia prepares to celebrate the 50-year anniversary of Yuri Gagarin becoming the first man in placed into orbit. The departure also comes after one of the most embarrassing failures in the Russian space program in recent times. A highly publicized space launch failed to reach orbit late last year leaving three navigation satellites crashing into the ocean off Hawaii.

The most recent Russian launch for the International Space Station (ISS), planned for just before the Gagarin anniversary was also delayed from its planned lift-off due to a technical problem.

The Soyuz capsule, adorned with a picture of Gagarin, successfully launched early Tuesday but the delay caused embarrassment to top officials who had planned to attend the March 30 lift-off. That delay could have Perminov being shown the door even before April 12.


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