Yevgeny Mikrin of Roscosmos

By Abankula

Coronavirus has hit hard Russia’s space agency, Roscosmos, with seven officials dead and 173 cases diagnosed.

The latest blow was the death of Yevgeny Mikrin, head of human spaceflight programme.

His death was announced on 5 May as cases of the virus ballooned in the country.

The number jumped Thursday with a record 11,231 cases.

This was the highest since the country started posting a successive over 10,000 cases from Sunday.

With 177, 160 cases, Russia is now the 4th worst-hit on the European continent, ahead of France and Germany.

About 1,625 have also died.

Mikrin’s death, at a hospital in Moscow suburb, was especially a big blow to Roscosmos.

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He was the Chief designer of the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation.

The passing of Mikrin, a scientist in mechanics and control processes, is “an irreparable loss for Russia’s rocket and space industry, as well as the country’s science,” a Roscosmos obituary read.

“The best doctors fought for his life for several weeks, all the possible means and methods were used, but unfortunately the illness gained the upper hand,” Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said in the statement.

“This comes as a grievous loss for us all — his friends, comrades and colleagues working with him shoulder to shoulder. He will remain in our memory forever,” Rogozin added.

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Mikrin had worked for Roscosmos since 1981, according to the statement.

On April 15, TASS reported that Mikrin had taken two tests for COVID-19.

Both results were positive.

The tests were done after he visited the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 9 to see the Soyuz MS-16 spaceship off to the International Space Station.

The spaceship carried a NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts

Mikrin’s infection triggered fears about the well-being of the astronauts in space.

But on April 28, Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin said on Twitter the astronauts were feeling fine.

Earlier in April, NASA also expressed complete confidence in the astronauts’ health and the integrity of the crew’s prelaunch quarantine.