The recent launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon vehicle, which delivered two American astronauts to the International Space Station, has highlighted the decline of the once-vaunted Russian space industry.
Russia has lost its long-held monopoly as the only country able to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station following the flawless manned launch by U.S. company SpaceX, reported The Moscow Times.
“The success of the mission will provide us with additional opportunities that will benefit the whole international programme,” cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, Roscosmos executive director for crewed space programmes.
If SpaceX starts taking up all US astronauts, “the annual losses could be more than $200 million, a significant loss for Roscosmos’s budget of around $2 billion,” said Andrei Ionin, an expert at the Tsiolkovsky Space Academy in Moscow, added The Moscow Times.
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Years ago, Russian space head Dmitry Rogozin joked America could “deliver its astronauts to the ISS by using a trampoline”.
“The trampoline is working,” SpaceX head Elon Musk declared last week after the launch.
The Crew Dragon captivated the Russian public as the joke was remembered on social media. Roscosmos seems to have not gotten the humor.
“We don’t really understand the hysteria sparked by the successful launch of a Crew Dragon spacecraft,” Roscosmos spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko said on Twitter.
“What should have happened a long time ago happened,” he added.