Russia’s space chief responded to Elon Musk’s challenge to President Vladimir Putin.
Dmitry Rogozin has previously expressed admiration for Musk, but they have a long-standing rivalry.
Musk has repeatedly presented SpaceX as an alternative to Roscosmos’ services to the International Space Station.
Shortly after Elon Musk challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to “single battle,” Russia’s space chief targeted the SpaceX chief on Twitter.
“You, little devil, are still young,” Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin tweeted at 50-year-old Musk according to Insider’s translation of the tweet. “Too weak to compete with me; It would only be a waste of time. Overtake my brother first.”
In his tweet, Rogozin quotes a 17th-century fairy tale by Alexander Pushkin, a Russian poet known for hiding political messages in his stories, who was banished from the country because of the themes of his writing.
Although it is unclear exactly what Rogozin meant by the quote, it is not the first time the Russian space chief has sparred with Musk on Twitter. The two have exchanged insults since Russia began invading Ukraine, and it highlights a long-standing rivalry between Roscosmos and SpaceX.
On Tuesday, Musk responded to Rogozin’s tweet with a series of jokes. He told Rogozin that they should “found a book club” and quoted Fyodor Dostoevsky’s novel “The Idiot”.
“A fool with a heart and no mind is as unfortunate a fool as a fool with a mind without a heart,” according to Insider’s translation of Musk’s tweet from a passage referring to a woman.
Musk also cast Putin and himself as fighters in a pay-per-view battle.
“Elon, get off the toilet and we’ll talk” Rogozin replied with a screenshot of one of Musk’s tweets from last year, according to a translation of the tweet.
Just six months ago, Rogozin was a self-proclaimed fan of Musk and SpaceX. In September, Russian space chief Musk invited me to his home “to be a guest of my family” and said he “had already put the fire on heat.”
“Mr. Elon Musk realizes many of the ideas and thoughts that we wanted to realize but did not achieve because our space program stopped for some time after the dissolution of the Soviet Union,” Rogozin said. “We respect him as the organizer of the space industry and as an inventor who is not afraid to take risks.”
At the time, Rogozin said he had seen Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson blow up the room and wanted Russian oligarchs to do the same. He invited Musk along with Bezos and Branson to a launch of Roscosmos’ Soyuz spacecraft in Kazakhstan.
“Our millionaires prefer to invest more in yachts than in spaceships,” Rogozin told CNN. “I like what your people do – people who spend their own money on things that are useful to the overall community,” he added.
Rogozin has previously questioned whether Roscosmos is tougher than SpaceX. In 2020, he shared photos on Twitter of Roscosmos specialists recovering a piece of a Soyuz rocket in snow.
“This is not Boca Chica,” Rogozin said, according to a CNN translation, referring to the city where SpaceX is testing rockets. “This is Yakutia in the winter. I wonder if gentle SpaceX is able to work under such conditions?”
SpaceX has long worked to fill the need for Russian propulsion techniques on the International Space Station and reduce its transportation costs.
By 2020, NASA was no longer completely dependent on Russian Soyuz rockets, and Roscosmos lost billions in revenue when SpaceX launched NASA astronauts from American Earth for the first time in nearly a decade.
Earlier this month, Rogozin said Russia would no longer supply rocket engines to the United States following President Joe Biden’s sanctions over the war in Ukraine, saying the United States could use “broomsticks” to fly into space. The space chief also threatened to cut off Russia’s support for the ISS and “send it crashing to Earth” in March. The comments reflect a statement from the space chief in 2014, when he said the United States could use a “trampoline” to send astronauts to the ISS.
In every situation, Musk has relied on placing SpaceX as an alternative solution, from supplying Starlink to citizens of Ukraine to suggesting that SpaceX was America’s “broomstick” or “trampoline.”
Meanwhile, Roscosmos and NASA have said they continue to work together despite Rogozin’s comments online.
Translations by Oleksandr Vynogradov.
Read the original article on Business Insider