SpaceX officials couldn’t resist poking fun at Russia during the firm’s recent launch of 48 “Starlink” satellites into orbit – escalating a feud with Russia’s space agency that has intensified since the Kremlin began its widely condemned invasion of Ukraine.
Just seconds before Wednesday’s launch, a SpaceX director mocked Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, who said on March 3 that he would no longer allow the sale of Russian rockets to the US in retaliation for its implementation of sanctions.
“Time to let the American broomsticks fly and hear the sounds of freedom,” the SpaceX launch director said while delivering the final “go” signal before liftoff.
Rogozin drew widespread mockery from SpaceX founder Elon Musk and others after he declared on state television that he would deny access to Russia’s “world’s best rocket engines” – adding the US would have to “fly on something else like their broomsticks.”
Musk replied to a screenshot of Rogozin’s remarks by linking to a previous launch of a SpaceX “Falcon 9” rocket along with the phrase “American broomstick” and four American flags.
Musk and Rogozin have exchanged repeated barbs since SpaceX began supplying “Starlink” internet access to assist the people of Ukraine during the war.
When Rogozin made a bizarre remark about the International Space Station falling out of orbit without Russian assistance, Musk responded by saying SpaceX was equipped to keep the station running safely if necessary.
Later, Rogozin purportedly ripped Musk for helping Ukraine despite SpaceX’s status as a civilian firm – declaring the billionaire had “chosen his side” following the Russian invasion. Musk responded by jabbing Russia over Ukraine’s ongoing internet outages.
“Ukraine civilian Internet was experiencing strange outages – bad weather perhaps? – so SpaceX is helping fix it,” Musk tweeted.
Musk has also warned the people of Ukraine to be careful using Starlink internet – acknowledging Russia’s military was likely to track the satellite signals.