Roscosmos Head Dmitry Rogozin before Russia-China talks at the Moscow Kremlin in June.
Enlarge / Roscosmos Head Dmitry Rogozin earlier than Russia-China talks on the Moscow Kremlin in June.

Mikhail Metzel/TASS by way of Getty Photographs

There is a nasty, more and more public battle that has engulfed a handful of former cosmonauts, a robotic, and the present chief of Russia’s area program, Dmitry Rogozin, in controversy.

The genesis of the dispute appears to be that some former cosmonauts have begun to talk out in opposition to Rogozin’s management of Russia’s area efforts—which has at occasions appeared self-serving—amid the rise of rivals like SpaceX and the decline of the nation’s getting old infrastructure.

Essentially the most outspoken critic of Rogozin and Russia’s area program has been Maxim Suraev, a Russian fighter pilot who served six-month stints on the Worldwide House Station in 2010 and 2014. After retiring from the cosmonaut corps, Suraev was elected to the State Duma, the decrease home of the Russian meeting.

For causes that aren’t fully clear, Suraev’s criticism of the state of the Russian area program has escalated in latest weeks. For instance, one week in the past he tweeted a picture evaluating the inside of the Russian Soyuz automobile with that of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, developed for NASA, with the caption, “Evidently, you may see for your self.”

Suraev has additionally tweeted a short video clip of SpaceX founder Elon Musk saying, “The trampoline is working,” following the profitable launch of the Demo-2 mission to the Worldwide House Station in late Could. This was a mocking reference to Rogozin’s insult, in 2014, of NASA after he was sanctioned by the Obama administration within the wake of the Crimea invasion. Rogozin mentioned NASA might get to area on a trampoline if it did not need to work with the Russian area program.

In one other notable swipe on Twitter, Suraev “apologized” to Soviet hero Yuri Gagarin, the primary human to enter area, whereas sharing a brief video of NASA testing the stable rocket booster for its House Launch System rocket. The implication was that NASA’s area program is transferring ahead, whereas Roscosmos is caught prior to now.

Rogozin used to have a Twitter account—which was fairly colourful and at occasions relatively spiteful—however he deleted it earlier this 12 months for causes unknown. (It appears believable that senior authorities officers instructed him to knock it off). Nonetheless, after Suraev’s criticism, Rogozin could have been utilizing the Twitter account of “Fedor,” a robotic despatched to the Worldwide House Station in 2019, to reply.

This Twitter account was additionally deleted this weekend. However earlier than the account was both deleted or banned from the social networking website, “Fedor” attacked Suraev and one other astronaut he flew with, Alexander Samokutyayev, for being drunk on board the area station. (See screenshot of translated tweets). These tweets are in line with the way through which Rogozin used the social networking website.

Samokutyayev, additionally a member of the Duma since his retirement as a cosmonaut, hit again on Monday, saying he was “outraged” by the accusations and that he and Suraev would examine their origins. Rogozin has denied having something to do with the Fedor Twitter account, however he additionally mentioned maybe the robotic was actually tweeting by itself.

If all of this does not make a lot sense, welcome to Russia’s area business beneath the management of Rogozin. Unbiased Russian area analysts warn this system is slipping into the “Darkish Ages” beneath mismanagement, and Rogozin has been accused of enriching himself at Roscosmos’ expense. The worldwide area business can be higher off with a better-led Russian area program.

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