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Medvedev fires top space officials over failed satellite launch

Russia's plans to initiate a new navigation system were dampened earlier this month when a rocket shed three satellites over the Pacific instead of placing them into orbit. Heads have rolled over the incident.

Proton M carrier missile with DM 03 upper stage and a cluster of three Glonass M satellites

The failed launch was an setback for Putin's pet project

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev fired two top space officials Wednesday over a failed rocket launch that resulted in the loss of three satellites and caused Russia to delay the inauguration of its new navigation system.

A presidential statement said Vyacheslav Filin, vice president of the state-run Energia rocket manufacturer, and Viktor Remishevsky, deputy director of the Russian Federal Space Agency, have been fired for "the mistakes made in the fuel calculations" for the December 5 launch.

The launch was planned to help establish a global navigation system to rival the United States' Global Positioning System (GPS). However, the Russian Proton-M rocket failed to reach its initial orbit during the launch, causing it to dump the three GLONASS-M satellites near the Hawaii Islands.

Dmitry Medvedev

When the launch failed, Medvedev launched a probe

Medvedev also reprimanded space agency director Anatoly Perminov, according to the Kremlin's statement.

"On the Russian president's instructions, Roskosmos will undertake additional measures to strengthen its performance discipline," the statement said.

Soviet plan revived

Russia's planned navigation system was originally conceived by the Soviet Union in 1976 and then picked up again by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Putin has hailed the system as an example of how Russia can regain its Soviet-era technological might. The prime minister has also vowed to put Glonass readers on every car made in Russia by 2012.

Author: David Levitz (AFP, AP)

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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