- Elon Musk shot a jab at Russia during a post-flight press conference after the Crew Dragon Launch.
- Roscosmos fired back, noting that the agency doesn’t understand why the launch was such a big deal.
- Both the United States and Russia are moving rapidly to get humans back to the Moon.
NASA made history over the weekend by launching SpaceX’s Crew Dragon to the International Space Station with astronauts on board. It was the first crewed launch from US soil since the end of the Space Shuttle program and the first crewed launch of NASA’s Commercial Crew program, which tasked both SpaceX and Boeing with producing crew-capable spacecraft to send into space.
Russia was apparently not impressed.
In a press conference after the successful launch, SpaceX boss Elon Musk said “the trampoline is working.” It was a reference to some disparaging remarks made by Dmitry Rogozin, head of the Russian space agency Roscosmos. This comment appeared to spark a very casual war of words between the US and Russia’s space group.
Rogozin has rarely spoken highly of NASA’s crewed spaceflight efforts. His comment — the one that Musk was clearly referencing — was that NASA might as well “deliver its astronauts to the ISS by using a trampoline,” rather than develop its own crewed launch systems. Musk’s comment was a clear jab back at the Russians.
To his credit, Rogozin took the jab in stride, and even applauded Musk for this trampoline reference:
— РОГОЗИН (@Rogozin) May 31, 2020
But while Rogozin was congratulatory on Twitter, the Russian space agency itself issued a statement that downplayed the importance of the SpaceX launch.
“We don’t really understand the hysteria sparked by the successful launch of a Crew Dragon spacecraft,” Vladimir Ustimenko, a Roscosmos spokesperson, said in a statement on Twitter. “What should have happened a long time ago happened.”
Russia also responded to comments from President Donald Trump noting that the US would once again be a leader when it comes to new space technologies. Roscosmos responded on Twitter by noting that it has already conducted “tests of two new rockets and [we will] resume our lunar programme next year.”
Okay, so it’s not exactly a new, intense “space race” like we saw in the 1960s, but it’s clear that the successful launch and docking of the Crew Dragon has sparked some healthy competition between the United States and Russia in the manned spaceflight department.
It’s also worth noting that SpaceX’s fancy crew capsule isn’t actually certified by NASA… yet. Crew Dragon still has to return to Earth in one piece with its crew safely tucked away inside. Once it passes that very important milestone, NASA will have the opportunity to give it the all-clear and add it to the space agency’s roster, allowing them to launch astronauts to space whenever they want.