Attack that injured Rogozin in the Ukraine also killed two

Dmitry Rogozin playing soldier in the Ukraine
Dmitry Rogozin playing make-believe soldier
recently in the Ukraine

More details have now emerged about the explosion that injured former Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin, including the fact that the attack, in Ukrainian occupied territory in Donetsk, also killed two.

The former head of Russia’s space agency was wounded when an artillery shell exploded as he celebrated his birthday in a hotel near the front line in Ukraine. Dmitry Rogozin, a flamboyant Russian politician who was once a deputy prime minister, was reportedly hit in the buttocks, head and back by shrapnel.

Two people were killed in the attack and several others were wounded, authorities in Donetsk said on Thursday, and Mr Rogozin said he was due to be operated on. Russian state news channel Rossiya 24 TV said the former space chief was celebrating his 59th birthday at the Shesh-Besh hotel and restaurant with several other separatist officials.

But Mr Rogozin insisted the incident took place during a “work meeting”.

Russian investigators think the shell came from a French-made Caesar self-propelled howitzer.

The criticism of Rogozin concerning this story has been quite ugly.

“A party 10 kilometres away from the front line with the Ceasar’s range of 40 kilometres? I would reprimand him for being childish,” [wrote Yuri Podolyaka, a prominent pro-Kremlin blogger.] “Two people have died in that restaurant, which, I think, is on his conscience.”

Rogozin’s path has been steadily downward since he was deputy prime minister of Russia’s defense department from 2011 to 2018. First he was demoted to head of Roscosmos, where he ended up losing Russia more than a half billion in income by his cancellation of the launch contract with OneWeb. Worse, that cancellation, and Rogozin’s confiscation of 36 OneWeb satellites, ended any chance of Russia getting any international business for years to come.

These actions caused him to be fired from Roscosmos in July, and shipped to the Ukraine (the modern equivalent of Siberia) to act as an envoy in the Russian-occupied territories. Once there, he did nothing to enhance his reputation. By holding this very public birthday party, at a public place so close to the front lines, was almost guaranteeing he and his party would be attacked.

I wish he quickly recovers from his injuries, but I also think Putin would be foolish to give this guy any further positions of authority.

Rogozin returns, playing a soldier in the Ukraine!

Dmitry Rogozin, about to go into battle!
Dmitry Rogozin, about to go into battle!

Fired from his job as head of Roscosmos and exiled to the Ukraine, Dmitry Rogozin has returned to the news! He was recently interviewed on Russian television, during which the broadcast showed clips of Rogozin getting a tour from Russian troops.

The screen capture to the left show Rogozin during that tour, dressed in military gear, though most of that gear is apparently Western in make, not Russian. Go Dmitry!

According to Antoly Zak, Rogozin during the interview promised that Russia will soon occupy Kiev, Vienna, Berlin and Budapest. As I say, go Dmitry!

Since Rogozin was sent to the Ukraine in July his work there has mirrored his “successes” at Roscosmos. At Roscosmos he was instrumental in ending Russia’s deal with OneWeb, costing Putin several billion dollars in launch income while destroying any chance for years of Russia getting any international rocket business. In the four-plus months since he arrived in the Ukraine, Russia has been on a steady retreat, losing vast areas it had previously conquered.

Hat tip to BtB’s stringer Jay, who says of Rogozin, “This guy is worse than Baghdad Bob!”

NASA and Roscosmos finalize barter deal for flying astronauts to ISS

As expected, mere hours after the firing of Dmitry Rogozin as head of Roscosmos, the Russians finally signed a barter deal with NASA for flying astronauts on each other’s spacecraft.

U.S. astronaut Frank Rubio will launch to the space station from Kazakhstan with two Russians in September. That same month, Russian cosmonaut, Anna Kikina, will join two Americans and one Japanese aboard a SpaceX rocket flying from Florida. Another crew swap will occur next spring.

No money will exchange hands under the agreement, according to NASA.

It appears that the firing of Rogozin by Putin signals larger strategic goals. Putin wants to defuse the tensions between the west and Russia, and this barter deal indicates Rogozin’s firing has achieved that aim, at least in space. Whether Roscosmos’s new head, Yuri Borisov, can regain Russia’s international commercial rocket customers is more questionable. Roscosmos under Rogozin proved to be a very unreliable partner. Regaining trust so that westerners will be willing to buy its services again could take decades.

Rogozin removed as Roscosmos’ head

Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos space corporation which controls the country’s entire aerospace industry, was fired yesterday and replaced by another former deputy prime minister, Yuri Borisov.

Don’t think Rogozin is out of favor with Putin however. Instead, it appears Putin wants his bull-headedness for running one of the regions Russia has conquered in the eastern Ukraine.

Following its tumultuous tenure as the head of Roskosmos, Rogozin was expected to move to the presidential administration and, possibly, lead it or “curate” the Russian occupation of the Eastern Ukraine, the independent Meduza publication reported.

I wonder if Rogozin’s removal is connected in any way with the ongoing negotiations between NASA and Russia’s foreign ministry for the barter agreement to allow the two to fly each other’s astronauts on each other’s capsules.

That agreement has been in negotiations and reviews for months by the two agencies as well as the U.S. State Department and Russian Foreign Ministry. NASA has long advocated for the agreement to enable what it calls “mixed crews” or “integrated crews” on spacecraft. That would ensure at least one NASA astronaut and one Roscosmos cosmonaut would be on the station should either Soyuz or commercial crew vehicles be unavailable for an extended period.

Rogozin’s bellicose manner has I think made those negotiations difficult. Putin might have decided, especially with the break up of its space partnership with Europe, to tone things down. Moreover, he might have realized that Rogozin’s contentious manner might be better put trying to take control of occupied Ukrainian territory.

Roscosmos forbids its astronauts from using Europe’s robot arm

In response to the final decision this week by the European Space Agency to officially end its cooperation with Russia on its ExoMars mission, Roscosmos today forbid its astronauts from using Europe’s new robot arm that was recently installed on the Russian Nauka module of ISS.

Russia’s crew onboard the International Space Station (ISS) will stop using the European ERA manipulator arm in response to the European Space Agency’s (ESA) refusal from cooperation on the ExoMars project, CEO of Russia’s state space corporation Roscosmos Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday.

“In my turn, I instruct our ISS crew to stop using the European Robotic Arm (ERA). Let [ESA Director General Josef] Aschbacher along with his boss [EU foreign policy chief Josep] Borrell fly to space and do at least something useful in their entire lives,” he wrote on his Telegram channel.

The arm was designed to work on the Russian part of ISS, so it appears this decision by Rogozin is an example of someone cutting off his nose to spite his face. It essentially reduces Russia’s capabilities on the station.

As for ExoMars, it is unclear what will happen to the lander that Russia built to put Europe’s Franklin rover on Mars. Roscosmos has said it might proceed with its own mission to Mars, using that lander, but it has not made the full commitment to do so.

Russian scientists defy Rogozin, will not reactivate German instrument on Spektr-RG telescope

It appears that the Russian astronomers who use their instrument on the Spekr-RG space telescope are refusing to follow the orders of Dmitry Rogozin to reactivate the German instrument — dubed eROSITA — which the Europeans shut down in response to the Russian invasion of the Ukraine.

[T]he head of the Russian Space Research Institute, Lev Matveevich Zelenyi, spoke out against the unauthorized activation of eROSITA to Gazeta: “Our institute – all the scientists – categorically object to this. This objection is both for political and technical reasons.”

“This is not a Russian device. I can’t judge how realistic this whole thing is, I don’t know if our specialists have processing codes… But even if they have, it will be simply impossible to publish this data – no journal will accept it and will do it right,” he added.

Rogozin however appears adamant about taking over eROSITA. But then again, Rogozin blusters a lot, with many of this worst blusters having no bite behind them.

Yawn: Rogozin tweets threats to Musk, Musk shrugs

In yesterday’s non-news Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos which runs Russia’s entire aerospace industry, issued a threat against Elon Musk for supplying the Ukraine Starlink service in its war against the Russian invasion, and Musk responded with an almost cheerful quip.

On Sunday (May 8), Musk posted on Twitter a note that he said Rogozin, the head of Russia’s federal space agency Roscosmos, had sent out to Russian media. The note claimed that equipment for SpaceX’s Starlink satellite-internet system had been delivered to Ukrainian marines and “militants of the Nazi Azov battalion” by the U.S. military. “Elon Musk, thus, is involved in supplying the fascist forces in Ukraine with military communication equipment,” Rogozin wrote, according to an English translation that Musk posted. (He also tweeted out a Russian version.) “And for this, Elon, you will be held accountable like an adult — no matter how much you’ll play the fool.”

This sounds very much like a threat, as Musk acknowledged in a follow-up tweet on Sunday. “If I die under mysterious circumstances, it’s been nice knowin ya,” he wrote. Musk’s mom, Maye, didn’t appreciate that glib response, tweeting, “That’s not funny” along with two angry-face emojis. The billionaire entrepreneur responded, “Sorry! I will do my best to stay alive.” (It was Mother’s Day, after all.)

Musk’s light-hearted response only stands to reason, considering Rogozin’s loud-mouthed track record. Nothing he says really matters, so why should Musk care that much. Musk probably posted Rogozin’s comments out of amusement more than anything else..

Berger: The media should ignore Rogozin

Eric Berger today beat me to the punch with a very cogent op-ed outlining how the press is consistently being fooled by the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, by reporting what he says without really understanding any of the larger context.

It happened again this weekend. Both Bloomberg and Axios reported that Russia is quitting the International Space Station due to sanctions imposed by the United States on Russia. Each of these stories garnered considerable attention. And each of these stories was also wrong.

…Specifically, this is what Rogozin said on state television this weekend: “The decision has been taken already, we’re not obliged to talk about it publicly. I can say this only—in accordance with our obligations, we’ll inform our partners about the end of our work on the ISS with a year’s notice.”

This may sound ominous, but that is the wrong interpretation of Rogozin’s words. There is actually some positive news in there, with Rogozin saying Russia will give NASA and its other partners a full year’s notice before departing. This is more than enough time for NASA and its commercial partners, Northrop Grumman, SpaceX, and Boeing, to work together to salvage the larger Western segment of the space station.

Rogozin’s most recent comments are even more positive than his comments in early March, when he threatened to break off the ISS partnership by the end of the month.

The ignorance of both the Bloomberg and Axios reports were amplified in that they were reporting nothing new, as Rogozin had essentially revealed this decision three weeks earlier.

The bottom line is that Russia is facing the death of its space program. It doesn’t have the cash to finance its own space station, and it has no one else to fly with. China says it will be glad to work with Russia on its Tiangong station, but it isn’t going to put out one dime to help pay for Russian efforts. Nor will the future American private stations.

Thus, most of what Rogozin says is bluster, not to be taken too seriously. Russia is going to stay with ISS for at least the next two years, and if it eventually decides to continue the partnership through ’30 it will be no surprise.

Space spat between Biden and Rogozin over Russian invasion of Ukraine

Yesterday saw harsh words expressed by both President Biden and the head of Roscosmos, Dmitry Rogozin, concerning the partnership of the two countries at ISS, with Biden imposing sanctions and noting these will specifically harm Russia’s space industry, and Rogozin responding by threatening to dump ISS on either a U.S. or European city.

In Biden’s statement, he said, “We estimate that we will cut off more than half of Russia’s high-tech imports, and it will strike a blow to their ability to continue to modernize their military. It will degrade their aerospace industry, including their space program,”

Rogozin’s response came in a series of tweets on Twitter, with his most bellicose statements as follows:

Do you want to destroy our cooperation on the ISS?

This is how you already do it by limiting exchanges between our cosmonaut and astronaut training centers. Or do you want to manage the ISS yourself? Maybe President Biden is off topic, so explain to him that the correction of the station’s orbit, its avoidance of dangerous rendezvous with space garbage, with which your talented businessmen have polluted the near-Earth orbit, is produced exclusively by the engines of the Russian Progress MS cargo ships. If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe? There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure to India and China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?

Meanwhile, it isn’t Russia’s space industry that will suffer the most from this invasion, but Ukraine’s. For example, the American company Launcher, which has had a software team in the Ukraine, has moved most of that team to Bulgaria for their safety.

As a precaution given the escalating political situation, during the last few weeks, we successfully relocated our Ukraine staff to Sofia, Bulgaria, where we opened a new Launcher Europe office. We also invited their immediate family to join them in this move and funded their relocation expenses. We continue to encourage and support five of the support staff and one engineer who decided to remain in Ukraine.

The company’s press release makes it clear that it is no longer dependent in any way with facilities in the Ukraine.

Launcher’s actions will not be the last. Expect all Western commercial efforts linked to the Ukraine to break off ties in order to protect their investments. Moreover, if Russia should recapture the Ukraine entirely, it will likely not give much support to its space industry, as Roscosmos has developed its own Russian resources in the past two decades and will likely want to support those instead.

Thus, the expected destruction of that country’s aerospace industry by Russia’s invasion proceeds.

Rogozin’s salary rockets upward

The salary of Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Roscosmos which runs Russia’s entire space industry, has grown from a mere $100K when he took over in 2018 to $1.3 million in 2020.

During the most recent year for which salary data is available, 2020, Rogozin was paid $1.3 million—and this does not include perks of the job, such as four vehicles, real estate holdings, spousal pay, and possibly off-the-books income. Before his imprisonment, Russian critic Alexei Navalny released an investigation of Rogozin and the corruption at Roscosmos that delves into some of these benefits.

Rogozin has seen a stunning rise in his fortunes since coming to Roscosmos. Before his move, he earned about $100,000 per year as deputy chairman in the Russian government. In 2018, his salary jumped to $513,000, and in 2019, it went up to $639,000.

By way of comparison, NASA, which has a budget several times larger than that of Roscosmos, pays Administrator Bill Nelson an annual salary of $185,100.

Rogozin is merely doing what all high level managers in Russia do. They get a job, and while there suck as much cash from it as they can before moving on or getting fired. The gigantic and fast increase in these numbers suggest Rogozin does not expect to remain in charge that much longer.

This pattern is very similar to what happened in the Roman Empire. The Caesar in Rome would appoint governors to the various outlying provinces in Germany, France, England, and the Middle East, who would then skim off for themselves as much cash from tax revenues as they could get away with, then retire back to Rome to live the good life. Meanwhile, governance in those provinces would suffer, to the point that eventually the empire fell.

Rogozin appears to be doing the same in Roscosmos, which suggests not much will come from its many projects to come up with new rockets, spacecraft, and space stations in the coming years.

Russia announces it is shifting its manned operations on ISS to yearlong missions

According to Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, Russia is changing the standard length of a crew stay at ISS from six months to a full year, beginning with the flight in which the crew will help film a commercial movie on ISS in October.

Then-Head of the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center Pavel Vlasov earlier said that two members of the Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft, Pyotr Dubrov and Mark Vande Hei, would stay in orbit longer than six months to help shoot a film Vyzov (Challenge). He also said that crew commander Oleg Novitsky would return to Earth in October aboard the Soyuz MS-18’s descend capsule together with the participants of the Soyuz MS-19 spacecraft’s flight (actress Yulia Peresild and film director Klim Shipenko who would be engaged in the film). Two crewmembers, cosmonaut Dubrov and NASA astronaut Vande Hei, would remain in orbit and return to Earth aboard the Soyuz MS-19 spaceship, he said.

Gaining experience at missions a year or longer, something only the Russians have accomplished, makes sense if one plans to send astronauts to Mars. I suspect however there is a second more practical reason for this change: It will free up seats on Soyuz to sell for commercial tourist flights. Russia clearly wants to compete successfully with the new American commercial manned flights that SpaceX and Axiom will be flying. This change gives them that opportunity.

Rogozin himself likely has personal financial motives. He is a co-producer on that movie, and likely will also pocket personally some of the profits from future tourist flights.

Russian astronaut fired for opposing filming of movie on ISS

Krikalev on the shuttle to ISS flight in 1998
Sergei Krikalev on the first ISS assembly flight
by the space shuttle Endeavour in 1998.

According to one new story today, Russian astronaut, Sergei Krikalev, 62, was fired from his position in senior management within Roscosmos for opposing its decision to film for profit the first feature film on ISS.

Krikalev did not say why he was against the film but his stance was backed by former colleagues who said that taking a passenger would delay a flight for a cosmonaut. Roscosmos denied that Krikalev had been fired.

Krikalev is one of Russia’s most celebrated astronauts. He was the first person to fly in space who was born after Sputnik, was the first Russian to fly on the space shuttle, and was the first Russian (along with an American) to enter ISS’s first module soon after launch. Overall he has spent more than 800 days in space.

He also became the last Soviet citizen, stranded on Mir when the Soviet Union fell in 1991. When he launched, he was a citizen of the U.S.S.R. When he finally returned, that country didn’t exist, and he was now a citizen of Russia.

I interviewed him extensively for my book, Leaving Earth, because he was fluent in English due to his flights on the shuttle. What I learned was that Krikalev was then and probably still is an ardent communist. On that Mir flight he refused to be filmed in a commercial for Coca-Cola, arranged by Roscosmos to make some money. There was no way he would allow himself to be recorded in such a crass for-profit manner. Thus, I am not surprised he now opposes using Russian space facilities for a commercial movie, for profit.

I also found him to be a very thoughtful and analytical man, which also probably explains his opposition to this quickly arranged commercial flight. The film company is partly owned by Dmitry Rogozin, head of Roscosmos, so there probably is some payoffs and corruption involved. It is also probably interfering with the Russian side of operations, as the story says Krikalev claims. These factors would cause Krikalev to speak his mind and argue against the flight, which likely angered Rogozin, who is apparently pocketing some cash from the film.

I suspect Krikalev is not fired, but has merely been sent to the doghouse for a short while. Roscosmos (and Rogozin) can’t afford the bad publicity of letting him go. It also needs his expertise in their operations.

Rogozin takes over Roscosmos

Former Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has now officially been named the head of Roscosmos.

It appears Rogozin will continue the Putin government’s policy of consolidating the entire aerospace industry into Roscosmos.

Along with the new appointment, the Russian press reported on Rogozin’s plans to initiate yet another reorganization of Roskosmos to absorb Tactical Rocket Armaments company, specialized in battlefield missiles, and, possibly, the Almaz-Antei enterprise, developing anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems.

This policy also suggests that Russia’s continuing fade as a major player in the international launch market will continue. They will focus on internal needs, but will no longer be able or willing to compete for business outside of Russia. Without any internal competition, and with corruption rife within these industries, Roscosmos under Rogozin will stumble along issuing press releases about future great projects, few of which will really happen, while it acts instead as a pork barrel jobs program for friends of Putin.

Russia throws in the towel

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, who Putin had placed in charge of Russia’s space effort, today said in a television interview that it makes no sense for them to try to compete with SpaceX in the launch market.

“The share of launch vehicles is as small as 4% percent of the overall market of space services. The 4% stake isn’t worth the effort to try to elbow Musk and China aside,” Rogozin said in an interview on the RBC-TV channel on Tuesday.

He estimates the real market of space services at approximately $350 billion, with the creation of payloads, and not the launch of these payloads in space, accounting for the bulk of the sum. “Payloads manufacturing is where good money can be made,” he said.

Translation: We can’t figure out how to cut our costs and build better and cheaper rockets without eliminating many government jobs, so we have decided not to try. And we are going to make believe this failure is a good decision.

In response to the competitive threat from SpaceX, Putin’s government decided to consolidate their entire space industry into a single government corporation, run by their space agency Roscosmos. This reorganization however has failed entirely. Rather than encourage innovation and a lowering of costs, it served to make Russia’s entire aerospace industry a servant of politicians, who are more interested in distributing pork than building an efficient and competitive business.

Rogozin is thus essentially admitting here that Russia has lost its international commercial space business, and is therefore rationalizing that loss by claiming they never really wanted it in the first place.

This story confirms that Russia will be launching far fewer rockets in the coming years. Their dominance as one of the world’s launch leaders is now fading.

Rogozin pins Proton failure on “moral degeneration”

In a speech before the State Duma, Russian deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin blamed the “moral degeneration” of the top leaders of their county’s aerospace industry for Saturday’s Proton launch failure.

“With such degeneration in the leadership of the enterprises, there’s no surprise at such a high degree of accidents,” said Rogozin who said that “space bosses have long gone into their own space.” … The vice premier expressed those that the force of “legal gravitation will lead them [those responsible for the failure of the Progress and the Proton] to where they should be,” RIA Novosti quoted him as saying.

In other words, expect more arrests and prosecutions. Meanwhile, there is little evidence that Rogozin or Putin are doing anything to make their space industry more competitive and thus capable of generating the profits necessary to keep it afloat.

Russia’s deputy prime minister today blasted the Russian space agency and one space contractor for the scandals and public backbiting involving both.

Soap opera: Russia’s deputy prime minister today blasted Vladimir Popovkin, the head the Russian space agency, and one space contractor for the scandals and public backbiting involving both.

The [contractor’s] accusations apparently come as a response to Popovkin’s comments on Monday. The official accused “space industry contractors” of disseminating false rumors about him because they were dissatisfied with his attempt to reform the industry. Popovkin was hospitalized earlier this month because of exhaustion caused by a hectic schedule and frequent jet lags, according to official statements. Some media reported it was due to injuries sustained in a brawl.