The newly elected president of Rocket Space Corporation Energia, Russia’s lead contractor on the international space station, has vowed emergency measures to avert a financial meltdown that he said was looming due to the practices of his now-deposed predecessor.

Shareholders of Energia of Korolev, Russia, met July 31 to officially fire Nikolai Sevastyanov as the company’s president and replace him with VitalyLopota, who

served previously as director of the Central Scientific Research and Development Institute of Robotics and Technical Cybernetics in St. Petersburg. Sevastyanov had

been already suspended by the company’s board of directors and his formal ouster by shareholders was a foregone conclusion.

According to a press release posted on Energia’s Web site July 31, Sevastyanov’s dismissal, orchestrated by the Russian Federal Space Agency, or Roskosmos, was approved by 97 percent of the company’s shareholders. Roskosmos owns more than 38 percent of Energia’s shares and had secured support for the move from the company’s other major shareholders.

Immediately after the meeting, Lopota said Energia’s debt load to both creditors and suppliers had increased from 3.9 billion rubles ($152 million) to 7.75 billion rubles during Sevastyanov’s two years at the helm of the company, which also builds satellite and rocket hardware.

“We plan to introduce crisis management of the corporation because the financial idealism that has been practiced

would have led to bankruptcy rather than to

flights to the Moon,” Lopota said.

ran afoul of Roskosmos president Anatoly Perminov by pushing what one agency official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, characterized as “outlandish” plans for manned lunar and Mars exploration that the government did not have the budget to fund.

According to a mid-level Energia official, who similarly declined to be identified, Perminov paid a visit to the company recently to personally press for Sevastyanov’s removal.

It was Perminov who pushed for Sevastyanov to replace longtime Energia president Yuri Semyonov two years ago in a move that at the time was opposed by the company’s senior executives.


said Energia is capable of building the hardware needed for a manned mission to the Moon, but emphasized that it would be up to Roskosmos and the government as a whole to decide whether to fund such a mission.

Deputy Director VitalyDavydov – who attended the shareholders meeting – told reporters that his agency has no plans to send cosmonauts to the Moon anytime soon, noting that the Russia’s 2007-2015 space program provides for no such mission.