Failed space launches haunt Russia; Kremlin eyes probe

MOSCOW — Russia’s latest space launch failures have prompted authorities to take a closer look into the nation’s struggling space industry, the Kremlin said Thursday.

A Russian weather satellite and nearly 20 micro-satellites from other nations were lost following a failed launch from Russia’s new cosmodrome in the Far East on Nov. 28. And in another blow to the Russian space industry, communications with a Russian-built communications satellite for Angola, the African nation’s first space vehicle, were lost following its launch on Tuesday.

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Asked about the failures, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Thursday that authorities warrant a thorough analysis of the situation in the space industry.

Amid the failures, Russian officials have engaged in a round of finger-pointing.

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Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who oversees Russia’s military industrial complex and space industries, said in a television interview Wednesday that the Nov. 28 launch from the new Vostochny launch pad in Russia’s Far East failed because the rocket had been programmed to blastoff from the Russia-leased Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan instead of Vostochny. He accused the Russian space agency Roscosmos of “systemic management mistakes.”

Roscosmos fired back Thursday, dismissing Rogozin’s claim of the flawed programming. It did acknowledge some shortcomings that led to the launch failure and said a number of officials were reprimanded.