He just can’t let it go.
For some reason, the chief of Russia’s space program, Dmitry Rogozin, can’t stop the trash talking.
He just can’t get over the fact, the he and his space pr0gram are not needed anymore — the US has moved forward — far forward, ehem — with Elon Musk’s SpaceX program, and its advanced smart rocket design.
Ergo, comrade Rogozin — who’s known for espousing unconventional scientific views — and for frequently sarcastic anti-Western rhetoric — has to get in a shot, any chance he gets.
Nothing terribly exciting there, but this means that as Soyuz rockets climb into space, they drop their stages onto the sparsely populated Yakutia region below in the far eastern part of the country.
With the Soyuz rocket, there are four boosters that serve as the rocket’s “first stage,” and these drop away about two minutes after liftoff. Then, the “Blok A” second stage drops away later in the flight.
Although the Yakutia region is geographically rugged and sparsely populated, the Russian government does a reasonably good job of establishing drop zones for these stages and keeping them away from residential areas, arsTechnica reported.
This is what happened, as usual, with Friday’s launch.
In his comments, Rogozin referenced Boca Chica, where SpaceX is building a prototype of its Starship Mars rocket, and wondered whether SpaceX would be capable of working in as harsh conditions as his hardy Russian experts, arsTechnica reported.
“This is not Boca Chica. This is Yakutia, and in winter. The team in the area of the fall of the second stage of the One Web mission was deployed two days before yesterday’s launch. Temperature – minus 52°,” Rogozin wrote on Facebook. “I wonder if gentle SpaceX is able to work in such conditions?”
The irony, as noted by some users in response to Rogozin, is that “gentle” SpaceX engineers do not need to brave inclement weather to recover their rocket stages.
They have built a smarter rocket.
SpaceX designed the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage to return to land or set itself down on an autonomous drone ship for future reuse. And its second stage can be commanded to reenter the atmosphere and burn up, arsTechnica reported.
Moreover, in Boca Chica, the company is attempting to build an entirely reusable rocket, with both the Super Heavy first stage as well as the Starship upper stage capable of landing and reuse — something definitely within the realm of possibility.
And while temperatures in South Texas do rarely fall below freezing, the mercury regularly tops 100 degrees during Boca Chica’s summer.
But there is hope on the Russian space horizon.
During a visit to rocket-maker Energomash, Putin said the government will offer more cash to develop new rockets and create more incentives for space industry workers.
The Russian leader said the Kremlin will also earmark 25 billion rubles (about US$388 million) to build the national space center in Moscow that will house space officials and research labs.
To be fair, Rogozin has had a difficult year.
He drew worldwide criticism for stating, if there is life on Venus, it might want to start learning Russian, as Roscosmos has officially claimed it as a “Russian planet.”
And then there is the stark financial reality.
As the Falcon 9 has continued to draw commercial launch business away from Russia’s Proton rocket, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon has also ended NASA’s need to buy seats (about US$90 million per seat) on the Soyuz vehicle for its astronauts to reach the International Space Station, arsTechnica reported.
Mostly, Rogozin has reacted to these changing circumstances like a jealous, spiteful child.
To quote Mark Twain, “Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.”