Russian space chief Dmitry Rogozin has apparently threatened Elon Musk, but the SpaceX founder and CEO doesn’t seem too bothered.
Sunday, May 8, Musk posted on Twitter a note he said Rogozin, the head of the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos, had sent to the Russian media. The memo claimed that SpaceX’s equipment Stellar Link satellite internet system had been delivered to Ukrainian marines and “Nazi Azov Battalion militants” by the US military.
“Elon Muskthus, is involved in supplying fascist forces in Ukraine with military communications equipment,” Rogozin wrote, according to an English translation published by Musk. (He also tweeted a Russian version.) “And for that, Elon, you will be held responsible like an adult – no matter how crazy you play.”
Related: Elon Musk says SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service is active in Ukraine with more terminals on the way
Live updates: The Impacts of the Ukraine Invasion on Space Exploration
That sounds a lot like a threat, as Musk acknowledged in a follow-up tweet on Sunday.
“If I die under mysterious circumstances, it’s nice to know you,” he wrote.
Musk’s mother, Maye, didn’t appreciate the flippant response, Tweeter, “That’s not funny” with two angry face emojis. The billionaire entrepreneur responded, “Sorry! I’ll do my best to stay alive.” (It was Mother’s Day, after all.)
It doesn’t seem like Musk is very concerned about his safety, which isn’t surprising given that Rogozin is prone to bluster and hyperbole. For example, the head of Roscosmos has repeatedly suggested that Russia could quit the International Space Station (ISS) program if sanctions imposed following the invasion are not lifted, but this continues to be more or less business as usual on the orbital laboratory.
And Musk and Rogozin have traded barbs before. In 2014, for example, Rogozin remarked that the United States should use a trampoline to bring its astronauts to the ISS – a reference to the fact that the nation was, at the time, completely dependent on Russia. Soyuz spacecraft for crewed orbital missions. (Rogozin, who was Russian deputy prime minister at the time, was furious at the sanctions imposed shortly after the nation invaded and annexed Crimea, which was Ukrainian territory.)
In May 2020, SpaceX ended that addiction by launching two NASA astronauts to the ISS on its historic Demo-2 mission. Right after that liftoff, Musk delivered a response to Rogozin in six years of preparation: “The trampoline works!”
SpaceX, Musk and the US Agency for International Development have been open about sending Starlink terminals to Ukraine, to help the country maintain some of its communications infrastructure during the ongoing Russian invasion. Ukrainian officials requested such equipment at the end of Februaryshortly after the start of the invasion.
Mike Wall is the author of “The low(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for extraterrestrial life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom Or on Facebook.