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A long anticipated reorganization of the Russian space agency Roscosmos has begun with the appointment of a new agency chief. Former Deputy Defense Minister Oleg Ostapenko stepped in to take the place of Vladimir Popovkin who was dismissed on Oct 10. RIA Novosti reports:

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees the defense and aerospace sectors, wrote in his Twitter blog Thursday that Popovkin left his post “with dignity.”

“Popovkin went with great dignity. Ostapenko came with great expectations,” Rogozin said, adding in his follow-up Twitter message that Popovkin would be offered a top managerial position in a new state corporation that will be created to take over manufacturing facilities from Roscosmos.

Popovkin held the office since April 2011 when he replaced Anatoly Perminov, tasked with turning around an agency that had seen numerous failures. Unfortunately, Popovkin didn’t have any better luck, overseeing launch failure after launch failure without ever seeming to entirely get to the root of the problem. Now it’s Ostapenko’s turn to try to bring reform – and quality control – to the Russian space agency. Popovkin is publicly rooting for his successor:

“I know from my personal experience how failures in the space industry affect the entire nation,” he said, expressing hope that Russia’s space program “would blossom” under Ostapenko.

It is expected that Popovkin will be appointed to a managerial position in one of the new state corporations being created to help reorganize the industry.

Image caption: Former Deputy Defense Minister Oleg Ostapenko with Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev (Credits: RIA Novosti/Dmitry Astakhov).

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Merryl Azriel

Merryl Azriel

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Having wandered into professional writing and editing after a decade in engineering, science, and management, Merryl now enjoys reintegrating the dichotomy by bringing space technology and policy within reach of an interested public. After three years as Space Safety Magazine’s Managing Editor, Merryl semi-retired to Visiting Contributor and manager of the campaign to bring the International Space Station collaboration to the attention of the Nobel Peace Prize committee. She keeps her pencil sharp as Proposal Manager for U.S. government contractor CSRA.