NASA's Scott Kelly calls head of the Russian space agency a 'child'

Astro-spat! NASA’s Scott Kelly brands Russian space agency boss a ‘child’ after he called the former astronaut a ‘moron’ and warned he would be the ‘death of the ISS’ in extraordinary war of words on Twitter as tensions reach orbit

  • Scott Kelly holds the current US record for most days spent on the space station
  • Dmitry Rogozin has been Director General of Russia’s Roscosmos since 2018 
  • Both are active users of social media, sharing their views on a range of issues
  • Recently the pair got into a spat over sanctions against the space program 
  • This included threats of deorbiting the ISS, and removing US flags from rockets 
  • Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has been blocked on Twitter by the head of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin, after the pair traded insults over sanctions.

    One of the most famous astronauts to come out of the U.S. space agency, Kelly is a veteran of four space flights, and spent a year on the International Space Station alongside cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, as part of a joint US-Russian mission. 

    The spat between the pair started when Kelly responded to a video shared by Rogozin, that showed UK and US flags being removed from a Soyuz rocket.

    Kelly replied to the Tweet, in Russian, saying: ‘Without those flags and the foreign exchange they bring in, your space program won’t be worth a damn. Maybe you can find a job at McDonald’s if McDonald’s still exists in Russia.’

    By this point Rogozin had already made a number of controversial posts on Twitter, including calling President Joe Biden’s sanctions against Russia’s space and aerospace industry were ‘Alzheimer sanctions’.

    He also suggested Americans could ‘ride their broomsticks’ to space, after refusing to sell Russian rocket engines to the US. 

    ‘If he’s going to act like a child, then I’m going to treat him like one,’ Kelly said. 

    Rogozin responded to the insult with one of his own, telling Kelly to ‘get off, you moron’, in a now deleted tweet, adding a threat that ‘the death of the International Space Station will be on your consciousness’, as he blocked him on Twitter. 

    Threatening the future of cooperation between US and Russia over the ISS has been a common theme from Rogozin, since sanctions were imposed on Russia after the country invaded its neighbour Ukraine on February 24.   

    Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has been blocked on Twitter by the head of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin (pictured), after the pair traded insults over sanctions

    Former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly has been blocked on Twitter by the head of the Russian space agency, Dmitry Rogozin (pictured), after the pair traded insults over sanctions

    One of the most famous astronauts to come out of the U.S. space agency, Scott Kelly (pictured) is a veteran of four space flights, and spent a year on the International Space Station alongside cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, as part of a joint US-Russian mission

    One of the most famous astronauts to come out of the U.S. space agency, Scott Kelly (pictured) is a veteran of four space flights, and spent a year on the International Space Station alongside cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko, as part of a joint US-Russian mission

    Rogozin responded to the insult with one of his own, telling Kelly to 'get off, you moron', in a now deleted tweet, adding a threat that 'the death of the International Space Station will be on your consciousness', as he blocked him on Twitter

    Rogozin responded to the insult with one of his own, telling Kelly to ‘get off, you moron’, in a now deleted tweet, adding a threat that ‘the death of the International Space Station will be on your consciousness’, as he blocked him on Twitter

    Rogozin has always been something of a controversial figure, but the threat, and later implementation of sanctions against Russia’s space program caused him to become more vocal than usual.

    Previous sanctions against Russia, including during the invasion of Crimea in 2014, excluded action against the space program, in part due to close cooperation between US and Russia on the International Space Station.

    However, this time, as Russian forces invaded Ukrain, bombs fell on cities and civilians were killed in the line of fire, sanctions became universal.

    Scott Kelly has become a vocal critic of the Russian invasion, regularly tweeting leading figures in the country, and showing his support for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying he has his ‘utmost respect’.

    He’d largely ignored Rogozin, until the space agency boss, with whom Kelly would have been familiar as he had travelled to the ISS on Russian rockets in the past, tweeted pictures of the American flag being removed from a Soyuz rocket.

    This was at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and had been scheduled to launch the OneWeb internet satellites to space, until another spat between Roscosmos and the UK government meant that would no longer happen.

    Rogozin responded to the insult with one of his own, telling Kelly to 'get off, you moron', in a now deleted tweet, adding a threat that 'the death of the International Space Station will be on your consciousness', as he blocked him on Twitter

    Rogozin responded to the insult with one of his own, telling Kelly to ‘get off, you moron’, in a now deleted tweet, adding a threat that ‘the death of the International Space Station will be on your consciousness’, as he blocked him on Twitter

    Kelly responded calling Rogozin a child, asking why he deleted the Tweet calling Kelly a moron

    Kelly responded calling Rogozin a child, asking why he deleted the Tweet calling Kelly a moron

    Scott Kelly has become a vocal critic of the Russian invasion, regularly tweeting leading figures in the country, and showing his support for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying he has his 'utmost respect'

    Scott Kelly has become a vocal critic of the Russian invasion, regularly tweeting leading figures in the country, and showing his support for Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, saying he has his ‘utmost respect’

    SCOTT KELLY: NAVAL PILOT, ENGINEER, NASA ASTRONAUT 

    Scott Kelly is a former military fighter pilot and test pilot, an engineer, a retired astronaut, and a retired U.S. Navy captain. 

    Kelly was educated at the State University of New York and the University of Tennessee, holding a masters in aviations systems. 

    A veteran of four space flights, Kelly commanded the International Space Station (ISS) on three expeditions and was a member of the yearlong mission to the ISS.

    In October 2015, he set the record for the total accumulated number of days spent in space, the single longest space mission by an American astronaut. 

    Kelly retired from NASA in April 1, 2016, and has become an outspoken commentator on Twitter.

    He has most recently used his fluent Russian to be an avid critic of the invasion of Ukraine. 

    His identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, is also a retired astronaut, and the junior U.S. senator from Arizona. 

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    In a post sharing the video, created by Roscosmos, Rogozin said: ‘The launchers at Baikonur decided that without the flags of some countries, our rocket would look more beautiful,’ showing the removal of British and American flags.

    Kelly responded, referring to Rogozin by name Dimon, which is the diminutive form of his first name Dmitry, and using the informal ‘you’ instead of vy.

    He suggested that without international cooperation there would be no Russian space program, going as far as to suggest he could work in McDonald’s ‘if McDonald’s still exists in Russia.’

    It does, and the fast food giant has come under fire for continuing to operate, despite most large firms boycotting the pariah state. 

    Rogozin ramped up the feud, sharing Kelly’s tweet, and adding: ‘I am publishing this so that everyone understands the degree of American ‘gratitude’ for what Russia has done for the United States.

    ‘Carrying their astronauts, such as Skotov, for 9 years to the ISS after American emergency and extremely unreliable ships ruined two of their crews and were eventually decommissioned. We then extended a helping hand to NASA, but now the aggressive Scott has bitten her.’

    He was referring to NASA purchasing seats on Soyuz rockets, at about $90 million per trip, when the Space Shuttle program was shut down after the Columbia and Challenger disasters, that saw both craft explode, with crew on board. 

    Russia has been cooperating with other countries on space since the fall of the Soviet Union, including its most high profile collaboration, the ISS.

    Scott Kelly is one of the most important astronauts to come out of NASA, having spent a year in space

    Scott Kelly is one of the most important astronauts to come out of NASA, having spent a year in space

    By this point Rogozin had already made a number of controversial posts on Twitter, including calling President Joe Biden's sanctions against Russia's space and aerospace industry were 'Alzheimer sanctions'

    By this point Rogozin had already made a number of controversial posts on Twitter, including calling President Joe Biden’s sanctions against Russia’s space and aerospace industry were ‘Alzheimer sanctions’

    The station is scheduled to come to an end of its life in 2031, when it will be safely deorbited, and put down in the south pacific ocean. 

    It is split into two halves, the American half is primarily responsible for power and life support, whereas the Russian half keeps it in orbit, and stops it making an uncontrolled re-entry, where it could crash on land, instead of the ocean.

    Shortly after the invasion, Rogozin suggested that if Russia withdrew from the ISS, it could come down on the US or Europe – but NASA has since confirmed it is exploring contingencies, including using SpaceX and Northrup Grumman spacecraft to take over the duty of ‘station keeping’ and stopping it leaving orbit. 

    The final straw for Kelly came when Rogozin shared a video, produced by Roscosmos, showing two Russian cosmonauts floating inside the ISS, waving goodbye to NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei.

    Scott Kelly responded to a video of US flags being removed from a Russian Soyuz rocket, suggesting without international cooperation, there would be no Roscosmos

    Scott Kelly responded to a video of US flags being removed from a Russian Soyuz rocket, suggesting without international cooperation, there would be no Roscosmos

    Rogozin has always been something of a controversial figure, but the threat, and later implementation of sanctions against Russia's space program caused him to become more vocal than usual

    Rogozin has always been something of a controversial figure, but the threat, and later implementation of sanctions against Russia’s space program caused him to become more vocal than usual

    The video isn’t real, and was mocked up as propaganda by Roscosmos, with experts suggesting it was Roscosmos threatening the future of the ISS. 

    Vande Hei was supposed to return to the Earth on March 30 in a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, and NASA has yet to confirm whether that is still the case.

    ‘If he’s going to act like a child, then I’m going to treat him like one,’ Kelly said in an interview with CNN, adding ‘it’s just unimaginable that the Russian space program would leave a person behind in space that they were responsible for bringing home. I don’t see that happening.’ 

    DMITRY ROGOZIN : DIRECTOR GENERAL OF ROSCOSMOS 

    Dmitry Rogozin is a Russian politician and director general of Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.

    He has been in that role since 2018, and before that was Deputy Prime Minister of Russia in charge of the defense industry.

    Rogozin has also served as the Russian ambassador to NATO.

    He was born in Moscow to a family of a Soviet military scientist and has a degree in journalism from Moscow State University, and holds two doctorates, in philosophy and technology. 

    He became one of the leaders of the Rodina (Motherland) party in 2003, a patriotic nationalistic coalition that won 9.2 per cent of the popular vote.

    He was involved in a power struggle soon after these breakthrough elections over whether to go down a socialist direction, or support incumbent President Vladimir Putin. 

    Rogozin won, pushing support for Putin and becoming party leader.

    He shifted the party further to the right, but was ousted in 2006 as his views didn’t align with the wider party.

    He went on to be appointed ambassador to NATO two years later. During this time he was a vocal opponent of Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO.

    During his tenure at Roscosmos, he has turned it from a government agency, to a money making corporation, owned by the state. 

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    There are four astronauts from NASA on the ISS, two from Russia and one sent by the European Space Agency.

    The European and three of the NASA astronauts travelled on a SpaceX Crew Dragon, the Russians and Vande Hei arrived on a Soyuz spacecraft.

    ‘If I was him, I would feel like I’m just going to keep doing my job,’ Kelly said. ‘And if they (Roscosmos) want to leave me up here, then I’ll find another way home.’

    The prospect of a longer stay will be daunting for Vande Hei, who will have been on the station for 355 consecutive days by March 30, beating the US record held by Scott Kelly, who was on board for 340 days. 

    His flight home would have marked the final use of the Russian Soyuz by NASA astronauts, as the space agency has now bet its future launches on the SpaceX Crew Dragon. 

    There have been calls for the upcoming fully commercial space launch Ax-1, operated by Axiom Space using a SpaceX Crew Dragon, to launch one person light when it travels to the ISS next month.

    So far neither Axiom or SpaceX have said whether that will happen.

    NASA told DailyMail.Com that cooperation continues with Roscosmos over the ISS.

    ‘Ongoing station operations continue as normal including work to fly crew to the orbital outpost and to return them safely to Earth. 

    ‘On March 30, a Soyuz spacecraft will return as scheduled carrying NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Pyotr Dubrov and Anton Shkaplerov back to Earth. Upon their return, Vande Hei will hold the American record for the longest single human spaceflight mission of 355 days.’ 

    ‘We are not getting any indications at a working level that our counterparts are not committed to ongoing operation on the International Space Station,’ said NASA’s Kathy Lueders, when asked about cooperation in space. 

    Rogozin also announced the end of cooperation with Germany over experiments held in the Russian side of the International Space Station. 

    It followed an announcement by the Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany that it would freeze cooperation with Russian universities and businesses. 

    Rogozin wrote: ‘The termination of cooperation with the Russian Federation in the field of higher education, scientific research and professional training announced by the leadership of the Federal Republic of Germany, of course, causes irreparable damage to the established long-term cooperation ties and significantly slows down activities in the field of outer space exploration for peaceful purposes.’ 

    Russia has also taken complete control over a space telescope project, that was originally a joint mission with Germany. 

    ‘Taking into account the completely unacceptable actions of our German colleagues, primarily the German Centre for Aviation and Cosmonautics, I turned off one of the telescopes of our space observatory ‘Spektr-RG’, which is located at a distance of 1.5 million kilometers from Earth at the La Grange point L2. This is a completely civilian international mission to explore the starry sky’, Rogozin said.

    He added that Russia has everything it needs to run the experiment without Germany.   

    Last week Roscosmos revealed that the last 56 Russian employees had left French Guiana, the European space port after the Russian space agency ended cooperation with the European Space Agency over sanctions. 

    Before OneWeb announced it was suspending all launches from the Russian-run Baikonour spaceport, Rogozin called for the UK government to withdraw its investment in the satellite internet service.

    Soon after, OneWeb said its 36 spacecraft, due to launch on a Soyuz rocket on Saturday, would no longer launch, and are being removed by Roscosmos.








    RUSSIA’S THREATS, DELAYS AND CANCELLATIONS IN SPACE 

    In response to sanctions imposed by the international community, Russia has made a series of threats, caused delays and cancelled projects.

    International Space Station

    Russia’s space agency boss, Dmitry Rogozin said ‘who would save the ISS’ with Russia were to withdraw from the orbital laboratory project.

    The ISS is split into two halves, with life support coming from the US half, and propulsion, stopping it falling to Earth, from the Russia side.

    Rogozin said the ISS could fall on to the US or Europe if it pulled out.

    Rocket sales to the US

    Russia sells two major rocket engine types to the U.S., and has done so since the mid-1990s. The RD-180 and RD-181.

    It announced an end to these sales, and the maintenance of the engines in response to sanctions.

    Rogozin said that the U.S. launch providers should ‘ride their brooms’. 

    Building military satellites

    Russia has announced it will redirect funding towards the construction of military satellites and equipment.

    It is ending some upcoming science projects, in favor of defense.

    Ending science projects

    Russia has withdrawn cooperation with Germany on a space telescope and experiments on the ISS.

    It says it will continue with the telescope, which it temporarily switched off, and the experiments on its own without German support. 

    No more launch

    Roscosmos pulled out of a Soyuz sharing agreement with the European Space Agency launch partner Arianespace in French Guiana.

    It has also threatened to withhold U.S.-built, UK-owned OneWeb satellites without a guarantee they won’t be used for military purposes.

    OneWeb later cancelled its planned launch on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome. 

    This prompted Roscomos to pain over. British and U.S. flags on the rocket. 

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