Russian Space Chief Calls Elon Musk a 'Pentagon Contractor' and Says SpaceX Starlink Satellites Will Be Used by U.S. Military

The chief of the Russian space agency Roscosmos has appeared to reject the idea of working more closely with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

Director general Dmitry Rogozin claimed Musk's "Starlink" mission, a constellation of satellites that is intended to deliver high-speed broadband internet across the world, would eventually be made accessible to the U.S. government.

"[Musk] is a Pentagon contractor. What association are you talking about? The satellite constellation deployed by the company will also be used for military purposes. It is of dual use. Do not build illusions, citizens," Rogozin tweeted yesterday. His comments were first reported by RIA News.

Rogozin, who has accused SpaceX of predatory pricing, was responding to a comment asking if he would "unite" with Musk. The chief shared an article which claimed the cost of SpaceX's rockets are partially covered by NASA and the Pentagon.

Earlier this month, Rogozin said his agency was working to "lower prices by more than 30 percent" for competitive reasons. According to The Moscow Times, he said: "This is our answer to price dumping by American companies financed by the U.S. budget."

The argument spilled over onto social media, where Rogozin added in response to a comment from Ars Technica's Eric Berger: "Instead of a fair fight in the space launch market, they lobby sanctions against us and use price dumping with impunity."

В этом весь цинизм и лицемерие наших оппонентов. Вместо честной борьбы на рынке космических пусков, они лоббируют против нас санкции и безнаказанно используют демпинг. А когда их спрашивают о реальной цене пусковой услуги, краснеют и вместо ответа пытаются навести тень на плетень

— Дмитрий Рогозин (@Rogozin) April 11, 2020

Musk himself joined the Twitter conversation about rocket pricing this month, writing: "SpaceX rockets are 80% reusable, theirs are 0%. This is the actual problem."

It's not the first time Rogozin has made such an argument.

In 2018, the chief accused Musk's business venture and the Pentagon of colluding to squeeze Russia out of the rocket business. "He's paid extra to enter the market with a cheaper product. Of course, Russia can't compete," he alleged at the time.

SpaceX rockets are 80% reusable, theirs are 0%. This is the actual problem.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 11, 2020

SpaceX says on its website that the company has secured more than 100 missions to its manifest, which represents more than $12 billion on contract. It confirms these include "commercial satellite launches as well as U.S. government missions."

Late next month, NASA astronauts will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) on SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, lifting off on a Falcon 9 reusable rocket.

"A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil," NASA said in a release.

Last week, Musk announced on Twitter that SpaceX had deployed 60 new satellites in the Starlink mission from NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida.

There are now at least 420 operational Starlink satellites in orbit, with the company hoping to obtain regulatory approval to launch tens of thousands more into space. Yesterday, Musk confirmed Starship prototype SN4 passed its cryogenic proof test, a milestone for the project that is intending to send both crew and cargo to Mars.

SpaceX has been contacted for comment.

Elon Musk
Elon Musk, founder and chief engineer of SpaceX speaks at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020 in Washington, DC. Win McNamee/Getty