The recent sanctions against Russia have already put a strain on relations between the country and the United States but have yet to affect the International Space Station or ongoing agreements between NASA and Roscosmos. On Twitter, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister and head of the Military-Industrial Commision Dmitry Rogozin suggested NASA should use a trampoline if it wants to send astronauts to space.
Rogozin’s comment is a veiled threat as the United States, and NASA, relies on Russia for manned launches. Based on previous statements made by NASA and the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), the political tension between the two countries would not affect manned launches or the ISS. The U.S. pays Russia for a ticket aboard the Soyuz spacecraft and, most recently, paid Russia $71 million for the ISS launch on March 25.
On Twitter, Rogozin said, “The US introduced sanctions against our space industry. God knows, we warned them: we respond to declarations w/ declarations, to actions w/ actions.” In another update, Rogozin says, based on the recent sanctions, the U.S. will need a trampoline in order to send astronauts to the ISS.
Rogozin’s anger stems from Monday’s sanctions banning the export of high-tech goods to Russia, reports Reuters. Analysts speaking to Reuters say the high-tech ban will be most damaging to Russia as the country relies on foreign microchips and other components used in satellites and the space industry. While Rogozin may threaten to no longer support manned launches for the United States, experts say Russia cannot afford to lose the $70 million per launch.
In response to Rogzin’s comments, SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk said he wants to reveal the “actual flight design hardware” of a crewed Dragon spacecraft. Musk said the reveal of the Dragon Mk 2, which was being designed by NASA and SpaceX, would happen on May 29.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 29, 2014
Musk has also commented on relying on Russian-made rockets in his lawsuit against the U.S. Air Force over the secret spy satellite contract awarded to United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing and Lockheed Martin. The Atlas V rocket used by ULA is powered by the RD-180 engine which is manufactured by NPO Energomash, which is majority owned by the Russian government.
Musk said in a statement, “Given international events, this seems like the wrong time to send hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kremlin – especially considering there are domestic alternatives available and qualified to compete today that do not rely on components from countries that pose a national security risk.”
The next ISS launch which could be affected by the current sanctions will occur on May 28. NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman, European Space Agency astronaut Alexander Gerst and cosmonaut Maxim Suraev will launch aboard the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazhakstan.