Roskosmos hires new head of Cosmonaut Training Center

Roskosmos hires new head of Cosmonaut Training Center
Yuri Lonchakov

Yuri Lonchakov resigned as he needed to undergo a medical treatment, but he is not going to return to his office. His team was recruited using the "loyalty" principle, a cosmonaut named Gennady Padalka said criticizing Lonchakov’s work.

There is a new supervisor in the Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center (CTC) since Yuri Lonchakov has left his post, Roskosmos said in a press release.

Lonchakov will no longer work at the center "due to a need for preventive treatment." He will not return to work after the treatment is over either, the CTC said. Maxim Kharlamov was appointed acting head of the center, having worked as deputy head of the center for management and development.

Gennady Padalka, a cosmonaut and Hero of the Russian Federation, wrote a letter of resignation in April 2017, explaining this by saying that he was "tired of doing nothing". According to him, he had no "flight prospects". Three pilots were then fired from the detachment: Sergei Volkov, Sergei Revin and Alexander Samokutyaev. Lonchakov justified their dismissal saying the staff was being rejuvenated, and commenting on Padalka’s resignation he noted he was 59 years old.

After the team of cosmonauts was updated this way, Padalka posted a letter in which he criticized Lonchakov, accusing him of unprofessionalism and defamation of the profession. Padalka said: "He should be removed from his post", and also claimed that Lonchakov's team had been recruited on the principle of "loyalty, personal allegiance and nepotism."

According to the cosmonaut, the head of the center was the one who made personnel decisions based on his personal considerations and "making it look like it was the general opinion of the detachment". According to Padalka, Lonchakov was against the appointment of Oleg Kotov as the director of Roskosmos department for manned programs between 2015 and 2016, and was easing the cosmonaut out from the center.

Lonchakov commented on Padalka's letter saying: "there is not a line of truth in this letter," in an interview with RBC, calling Padalka a "sick person," and adding that the cosmonaut had posted the letter "for records and fame, but that is his problem."

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