Diplomatic and Military Affairs

Russia replaces veteran space agency chief

Updated: 2011-05-01 13:51


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Russia replaces veteran space agency chief

In this Dec 15, 2010 file photo, Russia's Federal Space Agency chief Anatoly Perminov speaks to the media at the launch pad at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, with the Russian Soyuz TMA-20 space ship seen, background. [Photo/Agencies]

MOSCOW - Russia named a new space agency chief on Friday following a string of embarrassing setbacks and failed satellite launches.

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Anatoly Perminov, 65, head of Roskomos since 2004, was ordered to retire on Friday, a government spokesman said, and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin named former deputy defence minister Vladimir Popovkin as his successor.

Rumours of Perminov's sacking have swirled since December, when Russia lost three costly high-tech GLONASS navigation satellites in a failed launch that hampered the Kremlin's much-touted plans to rival the US GPS system.

Two high-ranking space officials were fired over the botched launch. While the official retirement age in Russia is 65, in practice many officials continue to work after this age.

Perminov will step down just weeks after he presided over high-profile 50th anniversary celebrations of Russia's space race victory in launching the first human into orbit, with Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin's maiden April 1961 voyage.



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