HEADS must roll in the Russian space industry after the latest botched launch, Vladimir Putin's prime minister has demanded.
A furious call for punishment of the "culprits" came from Dmitry Medvedev after the loss of 19 satellites in a Soyuz-2.1b mission last week from the country's expensive new cosmodrome in eastern Siberia.
Space chiefs are not even certain whether the Meteor-M satellite – the largest part of a payload powered by a Fregat booster – burned up in the atmosphere or fell in the northern Atlantic and reports suggest the botched launch came about because scientists forgot to programme the rocket so it knew it had blasted off from Russia rather than the Baikonur launch site Kazakhstan.
"We need to submit proposals on how to fix the situation, and about who will answer for this."
He demanded that space chiefs "draw all the necessary conclusions" from the latest failure, insisting on a "radical correction of the situation" once conclusions of a state commission into the loss are known.
Mr Medvedev rebuked vice premier Dmitry Rogozin, in charge of the space industry, saying he hoped his deputy realised the scale of the crisis.
"A special commission was set up, which is now checking the entire manufacturing quality control system of rocket and space equipment and its preparation for launch," Mr Rogozin told him.