Russian officials rattled by breach at rocket plant

Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:34pm EST
 
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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's deputy prime minister vowed Thursday to punish "sleepy" security officials after bloggers posted dozens of photos of an apparently unguarded strategic military rocket motor factory near Moscow.

Blogger Lana Sator said she and friends met not a soul, much less any security guards, as they roamed around state rocket-maker Energomash's plant, snapping pictures, on five separate night-time excursions in recent months.

She posted almost 100 pictures of decrepit-looking hardware from inside a rusted engine-fuel testing tower, the plant's control room and even its roof at lana-sator.livejournal.com

Russian media cited a senior space agency official, speaking anonymously, who described the breach as a shock of the same scale as German pilot Mathias Rust's brazen Cessna flight under Soviet radar to land on Red Square in 1987.

"It showed a complete inability to protect anything whatsoever," the official told Izvestia. Space agency Roskosmos declined comment on the incident when reached by Reuters.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said the security failure was "unacceptable," warning in a televised meeting with Roskosmos chief Vladimir Popovkin that "sleepy cats" who failed to maintain security at strategic defense sites face punishment.

Rogozin, Moscow's former NATO envoy appointed to oversee the defense and space sectors this month, also criticised Roskosmos for a string of recent botched launches.

"We must take urgent steps to restore order in this sphere," he said, ordering Roskosmos to present a report explaining the underlining causes of the failures by the end of January.

Last week, a Russian communications satellite crashed, adding to a string of humiliating launch failures that marred this year's celebrations of 50 years since Yuri Gagarin's first human space flight.   Continued...