The fall-out from the Proton launch failure last month continues. The head of the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos, Vladimir Popovkin, has been formally and publicly reprimanded for “improperly carrying out his professional duties” by the Russian Prime Minister and former President Dmitry Medvedev. The reprimand is noted by observers as a sign of the Russian government’s impatience after a long series of quality control-related space mission failures. The cause of the latest Proton failure has been identified as being mainly due to an improperly wired up guidance system. During an examination of the wreckage, three out of six critical angular velocity sensors used by the launch vehicle were found to have been installed upside down.
Comment by David Todd: While Popovkin has had relatively little time to make necessary amends to Russia’s space quality control system and thus might not be blamed, other aspects of his tenure as head of Roscosmos have caused headlines damaging to his reputation including amusing tabloidesque reports describing how Popovkin got into an alleged drunken fight with another man over the affections of his beautiful press secretary.