July 19, 2022

New Roscosmos Head

The surprise news of the week was that Dmitry Rogozin, the head of the Russian space program, Roscosmos, was suddenly replaced by the now former Russian deputy prime minister, Yuri Borisov. Rogozin was also a former deputy prime minister.

Reports or rumors claim the fiery Rogozin would be transferred to take charge of military operations in Russian occupied regions in eastern Ukraine. As a close associate of Vladimir Putin, this might not be a demotion, though the official Kremlin announcement just said he was "dismissed" as head of Roscosmos--a somewhat harsh statement if he will be sent to lead forces in Ukraine. 

For a deputy prime minister and former deputy minister of defense to be sent to run Russia's ailing space program might be seen as a demotion, as it may have been for Rogozin himself.

On the other hand, given Rosgozin's inflammatory remarks about nuclear war with NATO, as well as threats to end the ISS partnership by 2025, build their own small space station, plans for a new generation of spacecraft, and signing on to China's planned lunar base as a junior partner, Rogogin's replacement by a top-level official might mean Putin would be willing to dump serious money into rebuilding their space program.

Rogozin's tenure at Roscosmos was to all observers marked by continual decent towards irrelevance and endemic quality control issues and even sabotage, raising the question if his new responsibilities in Ukraine might also harm the Russian war effort.

As a possible sign of a ramping down of space station tensions under Borisov, a new crew seat barter agreement was signed, to allow for continued flights by Americans on Soyuz and Russians on Crew Dragon. 

Stay tuned!

Update: Roscosmos reiterated that Russia will leave ISS partnership in 2025, with the intent of building their own space station. There was no mention if they would try to remove any of their modules from ISS (if they even have the ability to do so). NASA reported they have not yet received any official communication regarding this, but stated that NASA would work to replace lost functions such as propulsion within that time.

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