Moscow bemused at US space ‘hysteria’ as Musk taunts Russia

Moscow (AFP) – Moscow space officials on Sunday said they were puzzled by “hysteria” around the successful SpaceX flight as Elon Musk taunted Russia and US President Donald Trump vowed to beat it to Mars.

On Saturday, SpaceX made history by becoming the world’s first commercial company to send humans into orbit, leading Russia to lose its long-held monopoly on space travel.

Musk lobbed a jab at Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian space chief who once said Washington may one day be forced to “deliver its astronauts to the ISS by using a trampoline”.

“The trampoline is working,” quipped Musk at a post-flight news conference alongside NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Both men laughed. “It’s an inside joke,” Musk added.

Rogozin remained conspicuously silent for most of Sunday but offered his congratulations to Bridenstine after the Crew Dragon capsule with two NASA astronauts docked with the ISS.

“It’s safe to congratulate you at this point with a successful launch and docking. Bravo!” he tweeted.

“Please convey my sincere greetings to @elonmusk (I loved his joke) and @SpaceX team. Looking forward to further cooperation!”

In 2014, Rogozin, then deputy prime minister, mocked the lack of a US manned flight programme after Washington announced new sanctions against Moscow which included some space industries.

While Russia saluted the United States, it also stressed Sunday it was puzzled by the frenzy unleashed by what many hailed as the dawn of a new era.

“We don’t really understand the hysteria sparked by the successful launch of a Crew Dragon spacecraft,” Roscosmos spokesman Vladimir Ustimenko said.

“What should have happened a long time ago happened,” he added, tweeting excerpts of Trump’s congratulatory speech.

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