Russia’s space agency Roscosmos has lost its firebrand chief Dmitry Rogozin, a man known for his blusterous anti-West rhetoric, particularly since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
He is being replaced by Yuri Borisov, a deputy prime minister previously in charge of weapons industries, as part of a reshuffle ordered on Friday by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Rogozin had served as the head of Roscosmos since 2018 and had earned a reputation for his rash comments and provocative statements targeting the United States and Europe.
This year, he repeatedly threatened to end cooperation with Western partners on the International Space Station (ISS) and other joint projects in space unless sanctions against Moscow were lifted.
At one point, he even suggested the ISS could crash into the US or Europe.
Just this week, when the European Space Agency (ESA) officially terminated its cooperation with Russia over a mission to find life on Mars, Rogozin accused ESA’s chief of “sabotaging” the ExoMars mission.
He said Roscomos would seek the return of the Kazachok landing platform it contributed to the mission, and that he had also commanded the Russian cosmonauts on the ISS to no longer use a European robotic arm there.
Some Russian media speculated that Rogozin still retains Putin’s favour and could be given a new senior job overseeing Moscow-controlled territories in eastern and southern Ukraine.
Roscosmos, Russia’s state-controlled space agency, oversees the country’s space programme and includes rocket factories, launch facilities and numerous other assets.
The reshuffle follows rumours of Borisov’s removal from the job he held for four years as Russia’s arms chief, amid reported flaws and deficiencies in Russian weapons programmes spotlighted by the conflict in Ukraine.
Borisov acknowledged some of the shortcomings in recent comments, saying that the military industries should have been more active in developing and producing drones.
“I think we were late with the deployment of drones,” he said in an interview with state TV.
However, Borisov’s appointment to the important role of Roscosmos chief suggests he hasn’t completely fallen from grace.