SpaceX 'stepping on toes' of Russia in space transport market, official says

By Andrew V. Pestano   |   Dec. 30, 2015 at 10:00 AM
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MOSCOW, Dec. 30 (UPI) -- SpaceX CEO Elon Musk's success in launching reusable space rockets means Russia will have to compete by creating cheaper projects to maintain its share of the space transportation market, a Russian defense chief said.

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said Russia's Roscosmos State Corporation is attempting to find methods to decrease spending on spacecraft launches and that solutions are within reach.

"The main goal today is to make space cheap," Rogozin, who's in charge of Russia's space industry, told Rossiya 24 TV on Wednesday in Moscow. "Competitors are stepping on our toes. Look at what billionaire Musk is doing with his projects. This is very interesting, well done, and we treat this work with respect."

On Dec. 21, SpaceX made history when engineers successfully returned the company's Falcon 9 rocket to Earth, landing it vertically on a landing pad at Cape Canaveral, Fla., -- just 10 minutes after it blasted-off for its jaunt to space and back.

"We are getting closer to new solutions. If we are asked what the main task in civil space is, we would say that it is not the moon or Mars, the main task is cheap space," Rogozin said. "Our competitors are on our heels. We are looking for a solution that will allow making spacecraft launches cheaper. Of course, such solutions will be found."

SpaceX has been trying for some time to perfect its reusable rocket technology. Over the past two years SpaceX, Musk and its fans and followers have watched two near misses and a spectacular explosion thwart their attempts.

Rogozin said Russian President Vladimir Putin has taken steps to further the country's improvements in the space market, TASS reported.

"Just recently the president signed a decree on abolishing the Federal Space Agency," Rogozin added. "That means that there will no longer be so much bureaucracy. Everything will now be part of a state corporation which will design new spacecraft and implement new projects by itself."

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