Elon Musk joked he could “die under mysterious circumstances” on Sunday. It followed comments he said were made by Dmitry Rogozin that Musk should be “held accountable” for supplying Ukraine with Starlink terminals.
The Russian space chief has expressed admiration for Musk in the past, but they have a rivalry.Elon Musk appeared to joke on Sunday that he could “die under mysterious circumstances” following a statement he said Roscosmos Space Chief Dmitry Rogozin made to Russian state media.
In the statement that Musk said was made by Rogozin, the Russian space chief appeared to take aim at the SpaceX CEO.
“The internet terminals of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite company were delivered to the militants of the Nazi Azov Battalion and the Ukrainian Marines in Mariupol by military helicopters,” Rogozin said, according to a translation of the comments posted by Musk. “Elon Musk, thus, is involved in supplying the fascist forces in Ukraine with military communication equipment. And for this, Elon, you will be held accountable like an adult – no matter how much you’ll play the fool,” the translation continues.
The word “Nazi” doesn’t mean what he seems to think it does pic.twitter.com/pk9SQhBOsG
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 9, 2022
Later, Rogozin issued a series of responses to Musk’s tweets, including his missive about if he were to die under mysterious circumstances.
“Nobody needs you,” Rogozin tweeted per an Insider translation of the private tweet. “Stop fooling around.”
The Twitter spat was just the latest of many public arguments between the two men.
SpaceX and Roscosmos have had a longstanding rivalry when it comes to supplying rockets, but negative relations between the Russian space chief and Musk have been heating up since Russia began invading Ukraine.
In March, shortly after Elon Musk challenged Russian President Vladimir Putin to “single combat,” Rogozin dissed Musk using a quote from a 17th-century fairy tale by Alexander Pushkin, a Russian poet known for disguising political messages in his stories and who was exiled from the country due to the themes in his writing.
“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.”
At the time, Musk responded to Rogozin’s tweet with a series of jokes. He told Rogozin they should “form a book club” and quoted Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel “The Idiot.”
“A fool with a heart and no mind is just 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 referencing a woman.
Musk also cast Putin and himself as fighters in a pay-per-view match.
He can even bring his bear
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 15, 2022
“Elon, get off the toilet, then we’ll talk,” Rogozin responded with a screenshot of one of Musk’s tweets from last year, according to a translation of the tweet.
—РОГОЗИН (@Rogozin) March 15, 2022
‘Be a guest of my family’
Less than a year ago, Rogozin was a self-professed fan of Musk and SpaceX. In September, the Russian space chief invited Musk to his home “to be a guest of my family” and said he’d “already set the teakettle on heat.”
“Mr. Elon Musk realizes many of the ideas and thoughts that we wanted to realize, but did not get to because, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, our space program halted for some time,” Rogozin said. “We respect him as an organizer of the space industry and as an inventor, who is not afraid to take risk.”
At the time, Rogozin said he had watched Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson blast into space and wished Russian oligarchs would 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 rather than in spaceships,” Rogozin said, according to CNN. “I like what your people are doing — people who spend their own money on things useful for overall society,” he added.
Rogozin has questioned in the past whether Roscosmos is tougher than SpaceX . In 2020, he shared photos on Twitter of Roscosmos specialists recovering a piece of a Soyuz rocket in snowy weather.
“This is not Boca Chica,” Rogozin said, according to a translation from CNN, referring to the town where SpaceX tests rockets. “This is Yakutia in winter. I wonder if gentle SpaceX is able to work in such conditions?”
SpaceX has long been working to fill the need for Russian propulsion techniques at the International Space Station and cut its transportation costs.
In 2020, NASA no longer became entirely reliant on Russian Soyuz rockets and Roscosmos lost out on billions of revenue as SpaceX launched NASA astronauts from US soil for the first time in nearly a decade.
In March, Rogozin said that Russia would no longer supply rocket engines to the US following President Joe Biden’s sanctions over the war in Ukraine and said that the US could use “broomsticks” to fly to space. The space chief also threatened to cut off Russia’s support to the ISS and “send it plummeting to Earth” in March. The comments echo a statement from the space chief in 2014 when he said the US could use a “trampoline” to send astronauts to ISS.
In each situation, Musk has leaned into positioning SpaceX as an alternative solution, from providing Starlink to citizens in Ukraine to suggesting SpaceX was America’s “broomstick” or “trampoline.”
In the meantime, Roscosmos and NASA have said they are continuing to work together despite Rogozin’s comments online.