Enlarge /. Roscosmos boss Dmitry Rogozin visits the control center for a launch pad for the Soyuz-2 launchers in the Vostochny Cosmodrome.
Yegor AleyevTASS via Getty Images
In the ten days since SpaceX has put people into orbit and given NASA the ability to launch their own astronauts into space, Russian officials have offered a mixed response. However, there seems to be a clear trend – minimizing SpaceX's performance and hinting at Russia's own bright future in space.
During a press conference after the launch on May 30, SpaceX founder Elon Musk cheekily said: "The trampoline works." This was an excavation at the head of Russian space society, Dmitry Rogozin, a former Russian defense official who was sanctioned in 2014 as part of the U.S. response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine. At the time the U.S. was relying on the Russian Soyuz vehicle to get into space, Rogozin suggested on Twitter that NASA could use a trampoline to get into space if it didn't like to work with Russia .
According to Musk's recent comments, Rogosin initially joined the joke and said he was amused by it: "Please convey my sincere greetings to @elonmusk (I loved his joke) and @ SpaceX Team. I look forward to further cooperation! "
It was all good and diplomatic. In reality, however, it seems more likely that Rogozin was stung by this "joke". A few days later, Rogozin ended his personal Twitter account, changed his handle to an official Roscosmos account, and deleted some of his more inflammatory tweets. Unfortunately, the old, fiery Rogozin has disappeared from Twitter. At least for now.
But he is clearly not gone himself. Earlier this week in Forbes, Rogozin commented on Crew Dragon and Russia's plans in space. Roscosmos has since released an English version, and Rogozin is far less complementary to SpaceX and NASA.
According to Rogozin, SpaceX is no different from other space companies that have received "colossal funds" for Crew Dragon, that the spacecraft is very heavy, and that Americans should be damn grateful that Russia has taken them out into space for nine years. None of this is particularly wrong, but Rogozin's words are angry and defensive.
"Elon Musk didn't overthrow us – he overthrew his Boeing compatriots who passed them at the start of the flight tests," said Rogozin. "This war belongs to them, but not to us."
Interestingly, he also admits that the Russian price has eroded NASA's access to space. Although Rogozin says Roscosmos earned "honest" money for the Soyuz spaceflight, he questions the notion that the Crew Dragon is cheaper than a Soyuz. (According to NASA, the price per seat for Crew Dragon is $ 55 million. During the last round of negotiations, the Russian Space Agency paid more than $ 90 million for a Soyuz seat).
"The cost of our launches is much lower than that of the Americans," said Rogozin. "The men seem to be confusing the starting cost price and the launch service price formed by the market. So I insist that the Soyuz MS spacecraft with the Soyuz-2.1a launcher was and remains unchallenged – whatever our competitors say."
Much of the rest of the article is given to talk about all the great things Russia is doing in space – even to compare the Soyuz spacecraft with Italian Renaissance artists like Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo and Titian, and alternatively as our "space" Kalashnikov Rifle ".
This noise about the future of Russian space was accompanied on social media. For example, Rogozin's renamed Twitter account excitedly tweeted last Friday about the company's next-generation "Oryol" spacecraft. The tweet showed pictures of an "escape test" in the event of an emergency water landing. In reality, the photos showed some people climbing down a rope from an Oryol model that is constantly evolving and may never fly. In addition, Russian space journalist Anatoly Zak said this "news" is a repeat of a test that took place seven years ago.
Similarly, Roscosmos' chief media officer Vladimir Ustimenko said recently that the country will test two new missiles and will soon resume its lunar exploration program. However, this story appears to have been published with photos of an old Baikal concept booster from twenty years ago.
The pattern here seems pretty clear. After the success of SpaceX and NASA, Roscosmos has a need to make announcements about its upcoming breakthroughs. Whether they come in or not, we won't hold our breath.