Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Война слов (War of Words)

Elon Musk is going toe-to-toe with United Launch Alliance for their Defense Department business.

His company's success with affordable launch systems (that he hopes will be reusable) may have nudged Orbital Sciences and ATK into a merger.

And now he's rattling sabers with the Russian defense minister.

Dmitri Rogozin, Russia's deputy prime minister in charge of their defense and space industries, is one of the Russian leaders targeted for sanctions by the United States in response to his nation's invasion of Crimea and threatening the rest of Ukraine.

Apparently Mr. Rogozin is feeling the effects of the sanctions, because yesterday he tweeted this message:

This roughly translates as, “After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest the USA deliver their astronauts to the International Space Station with the help of a trampoline.”

Rogozin is fluent in six foreign languages, including English, so he also tweeted this translation:

Both tweets link to a Russian-language article on the government controlled Russia Today web site. Their English-language site doesn't have a version, so perhaps the article was intended for internal consumption. The headline roughly translates as, “Dmitri Rogozin: Sanctions Against the Russian Space Program by the U.S.A. Substitute Their Own Astronauts on the ISS.”

The gist of the article, as explained by Alan Boyle of NBC News, is that Rogozin accuses the U.S. of wanting “to clear us out of the space services market.”

Fear that the U.S. commercial space program will put Russia out of business is nothing new.

In 2012, cosmonaut Gennady Padalka and now-deposed Roscosmos General Director Vladimir Popovkin said that companies like SpaceX were going to attract launch business away from Russia.

Mr. Musk is well aware of this, so he took delight in posting this reply to Mr. Rogozin:

Having piqued our curiosity, Elon followed with this:

Some might see hubris in his tweets, but regardless of your opinion of Mr. Musk the reality is that SpaceX is what the Russian space industry fears the most. Elon knows it, and so does Mr. Rogozin.

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