The head of Russia’s space agency has accused tech billionaire Elon Musk of trying to squeeze Moscow out of the carrier rockets market by lowballing prices for commercial space flights.
SpaceX has upended the space industry with its relatively low-cost Falcon 9 rockets. The company has completed more than 50 successful Falcon launches and snagged billions of dollars' worth of contracts, including deals with NASA and the U.S. Department of Defense.
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russia’s Roscosmos Federal Space Agency, told state-run television on Monday that Musk sells launches from $40 million to $60 million “to squeeze Russia out of this market.”
“We understand that this game is unfair,” he said on Channel One’s “The Great Game” political show.
Rogozin claimed Musk is colluding with the Pentagon, which he says “pays him on average $150 million for every launch.”
“He’s paid extra to enter the market with a cheaper product. Of course Russia can’t compete,” the former deputy prime minister charged.
Rogozin vowed to regain leadership in the space launch market with a new Angara heavy space rocket.
“You’ll check and correct me in two-three years.”
NASA is planning to send a manned test flight to the International Space Station aboard Musk’s Crew Dragon commercial spacecraft in April 2019. Moscow has suggested it would stop sending American astronauts to the ISS after the Russian-U.S. contract expires in April as bilateral relations continue their downward spiral.
Since the U.S. space shuttles were retired in 2011, Roscosmos has charged NASA an estimated $70 million for each seat aboard its rockets. Musk promises to undercut that significantly, charging around $20 million on his Dragon spacecraft.
Reuters contributed reporting to this article.