Rumors are swirling in Russian social media networks and select publications that Roscosmos’ bombing director general, Dmitry Rogozin, will soon lose his position.
The Interfax news agency reports that Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, who oversees the Russian space and defense industry, may be transferred to the leadership of Roscosmos. Separately, the Telegram channel continues to make similar claims about Borisov and Rogozin, citing other media.
To be clear, these are rumours. And it’s not the first time that speculation has swirled about the future of Rogozin, who four years ago took command of Roscosmos—a giant, state-owned corporation responsible for the vast majority of Russia’s space-flight activities. His tenure has been a troubled and controversial one that, in addition to heated and destructive rhetoric, has seen the reliability and launch rate of Russian space vehicles decline.
The renewed speculation comes as Rogozin continues to cut ties with the United States, Europe and other partners in the spaceflight – and belligerently-speak, who have in the months following Russia’s invasion of that country. Ukraine supported.
Here is a brief list of the controversies that Rogozin has been embroiled in with Western authorities only in the past week:
- July 7: NASA takes the extremely rare step of publicly criticizing Roscosmos for using the International Space Station for propaganda purposes while supporting the broken regions of Ukraine. “NASA strongly reprimands Russia for using the International Space Station for political purposes to support its war against Ukraine,” the space agency said. European and Canadian space agencies also joined the criticism.
- July 11: The Russian publication Aviation Explorer reports that Rogozin refused a call from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson in the wake of the ISS propaganda incident. Rogozin reportedly said, “There is nothing to talk about. Let the restrictions be lifted first.”
- July 12: Rogozin mocks US President Joe Biden on his Telegram channel after NASA revealed the first photo from the James Webb Space Telescope at a ceremony at the White House. Rogozin said Biden needed a large magnifying glass and went to the bathroom for a long time.
- 12 July: European Space Agency where is it “Officially” ending work with Russia on the ExoMars probe to land on Mars. Rogozin responded with an angry message on this Telegram account, calling ESA chief Josef Aschbacher an “irresponsible bureaucrat”.
- July 12: In a tit-for-tat move, Rogozin threatens to halt Russian cooperation on the use of a new European robotic arm on the space station. This arm was developed for ESA by several European countries and was launched in the Russian section of the space station in July 2021. Rogozin’s remarks raised questions about whether a spacewalk scheduled next week to work on the robotic arm, by Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev and ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, would go ahead.
Relations between Russia and its Western partners in space have deteriorated since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, NASA and its Western partners have sought to have a professional arrangement with Russia’s civilian space operators in order to fly the International Space Station safely. He has done this despite Rogozin’s provocation.
But Rogozin’s behavior seems to be deteriorating. Rogozin’s recent actions suggest that he is increasingly agitated, aloof, desperate, or some combination, as rumors about his future are.
Meanwhile, NASA and Roscosmos continue to work toward a possible “seat swap” in September that would see NASA astronaut Frank Rubio flying on a Soyuz spacecraft and a Russian astronaut, Anna Kikina, for the first time. SpaceX’s crew will fly on Dragon. Spacecraft. A final decision needs to be made within the next few weeks, and given Roscosmos’ turbulent leadership, it may not be easy for NASA.