On Tuesday shareholders in Russian aerospace company RSC Energia, which includes the Russian government, officially named Vitaly Lopota as the company’s new president. Lopota replaces Nikolai Sevastianov, who was effectively ousted last month. Sevastianov got into trouble in part by making bold pronouncements about plans to return to the moon, ranging from far-fetched proposals to mine the lunar regolith for helium-3 to proposals to fly Soyuz missions on circumlunar missions around the Moon. The latter, of course, has been something that Space Adventures has been trying to line up paying passengers for, at $100 million for each of two available seats.
Lopota appears to be distancing himself from those lunar mission plans. For example, Itar-Tass noted that Energia will coordinate its announcements with the Russian space agency Roskosmos because, previously, “Sevastianov often declared plans for manned space flights that disagreed with the official position of the agency and the federal space program for 2006-2015.” RIA Novosti reported that Sevastianov “has been repeatedly criticized, primarily for his daring projects relating to lunar exploration, branded “lunacy” by the Space Agency”. (The irony of branding lunar exploration plans as “lunacy” is apparently lost on Novosti’s editors.) These comments suggest that proposals to modify Soyuz spacecraft for circumlunar missions may be shifted to the back burner under Energia’s new leadership.