Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said on Tuesday that Russia plans to use some technical solutions developed for the aerospace industry by Canadian-American businessman Elon Musk.
He stressed that the severance of cooperation with the US in space and the cessation of rocket engine deliveries to the United States, both of which the State Duma proposed within the framework of a new law on retaliatory sanctions, would be a shot in the foot.
"The Americans still fly on our Soyuz ships; we still cooperate on the ISS and train crews in Star City, then prepare at Baikonur. We supply [them with] NK-33 and RD-180 engines. Could we turn around and suspend all this? We could. The only issue is that we must always weigh the pros and cons, understand what [of these changes] is pure politics, and what is economic pragmatism," the Deputy Prime Minister said in an interview with RBC.
According to Rogozin, the money received from selling to the United States H-33 engines, which are "not the newest" and which "were not even used by the USSR in the 1970s", is put toward funding for the latest Russian space research. Thus, cooperation in this area is more beneficial to Russia than to the US.
Current international contracts for the supply of RD-180 and RD-181 engines, which are produced by NPO Energomash and which in effect replaced the NK-33 after an accident in 2014, are valid through the end of 2019. In 2017, the USA tested BE-4 rocket engines, which are designed to replace the Russian RD-180 after the contract is concluded.
At the same time, Rogozin stressed that Russia is not worried about losing its position in the market for commercial space launch vehicles. "To jostle with Elon Musk on the market…that is not money that we needed to earn," he said, adding that he takes Musk very seriously.
"He is a very talented engineer and a brilliant PR man. I, for example, carefully analyzed his technical solutions with our specialists. I can say that we are ashamed, but we will use something," the Deputy Prime Minister said.
As for the moon exploration program, Rogozin denied rumors about negotiations with the United States. "We do not intend to impose ourselves on the Americans," said the Deputy Prime Minister. "We definitely will not be apprentices."
He also promised to start launching Russian space stations on the Moon as early as 2019, and to deploy work in orbit by 2024, despite Russia's lack of modern super-heavy carriers.
Meanwhile, the Russian State Duma postponed the adoption of a sanctions response package against American goods and companies until mid-May.
In addition to a ban on the export of raw materials and components for the aerospace industry, the bill allows the Russian government to impose restrictions on the importation of agricultural products, food, raw materials, medicines and other manufactured goods from the United States or other states "unfriendly" toward Russia.
"We have to work out all the norms so that it's a quality bill," said the Chairman of the Lower House, Vyacheslav Volodin, on Monday.