The head of Russia’s state launch provider Glavkosmos has lashed out at US rocket companies for price “dumping”.
During a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the director general of Glavkosmos Dmitry Rogozin announced the launch provider would be reducing the cost of launch services by more than 30%. Rogozin explained that the reduction in cost was in response to “dumping by American companies”.
Dumping, in this context, is the act of offering a product or service to another country at a reduced cost in order to harm native providers. Rogozin specifically identified SpaceX for his ire. He claimed the California-based launch provider offered launch services to NASA at “one and a half to four times more” than the standard $60 million price tag.
Rogozin’s comments were first published on Russian state news outlet Tass. In response to the report, Eric Berger, a senior space editor at Ars Technica, weighed in on Twitter decrying Rogzin’s hypocrisy in identifying SpaceX when United Launch Alliance (ULA) has operated within the same system for more than a decade.
Berger’s comments were not received well by Rogozin. Quote tweeting the Ars Technica editor’s comment, Rogozin hit back at Berger for “promoting unfair competition by lobbying sectoral sanctions against RUS and its rocket industry and dumping launch prices with DoD/taxpayer support.”
As the spat between Rogozin and Berger gained interest, the pair’s comments got the attention of the CEOs of SpaceX and ULA, both of whom are active on Twitter.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk commented stating, “SpaceX rockets are 80% reusable, theirs are 0%. This is the actual problem.” ULA CEO Tory Bruno, on the other hand, took offense at Berger’s assertion that his company benefits from “subsidies”. “This [is] an absurd myth. I am mystified that it persists,” tweeted Bruno.
The argument that played out on Twitter over the Easter weekend is not a new one. In 2018, the chief executive of the Ariane Group, Alain Charmeua attributed the success of SpaceX to subsidized launches for the US government. A year later, SpaceX wrote a letter to a high ranking member of the US Department of Commerce arguing the EU and the French government unfairly lowered the cost of Arianespace launch services.