back to article Russia drags NASA: Enjoy your expensive SpaceX capsule, our Soyuz is the cheap Kalashnikov of rockets

The big cheese at Roscosmos has claimed a launch to the International Space Station using good ol’ fashioned Russian Soyuz rockets still costs less than SpaceX’s offering. In an opinion article shared on the Russian agency's website in English, Dmitry Rogozin also accused NASA of being unprofessional, and slammed the Americans …

  1. Steven Raith

    Foot in mouth

    "Rogozin is known for being outspoken. In 2014, after the US announced economic sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea, he hit back and suggested America could deliver its astronauts to the ISS with a “trampoline” instead."

    Funny looking trampoline, that Dragon Crew Capsule and the rocket that launches it - and can land itself for re-use, innit?

    Steven R

    (I'm no SpaceX/Musk fanboy, but I bet those words proper sting today)

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      Re: Foot in mouth

      To be fair, if Russia had pulled the plug in 2014, the US would have no astronauts up there for 6 years.

      1. You aint sin me, roit
        Stop

        Re: Foot in mouth

        To be fair, without US cash since 2014 the Russians might have had a reduced presence...

        Which is probably why he's so upset. NASA just took away his funding.

        1. apalamarchuk
          Mushroom

          Re: Foot in mouth

          Yeah, let's see if without NASA funding Russia will have any space launch capability in 5 years. Rotten through with corruption organization such as Roskosmos can't compete with efficient private enterprise.

          Seriously, I'd wager a bet that in 5 years Russians will use instead SpaceX vehicles to launch their military satellites and will not have any launch capability on their own. Any takers?

          1. William Higinbotham

            Re: Foot in mouth

            There are 2 other countries that can offer lifts - China for one and the other that may become a contender is India. But I wonder if China's seats are big enough for American astronauts, should we even ask how their toilets work? :-)

            1. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: Foot in mouth

              China is pursuing it's space program completely separate from everybody else. No trips to ISS.

              The Chinese lander and rover on the moon have lasted 8 day/night cycles so far. That's impressive.

            2. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: Foot in mouth

              "But I wonder if China's seats are big enough for American astronauts"

              China _started_ with scaled up Soyuz capsules and grew them. The obvious racist dig is rather misguided - my own family is full of hobbits and at 5'6-5'8, the average chinese guy towers over them

              FWIW most US astronauts (and test pilots) are _short_ - tall people have a tendency to have their knees removed by the instrument panel when they eject. The Mercury/Gemini guys were mostly 5-3-5'4 or thereabouts. Big people are a liability in spacecraft (It's been joked that a double leg amputee would make an ideal astronaut as they've had 1/3 of their mass removed)

              As for toilets in microgravity - they're all awful and will leave you going "ewwwwwwwww" - bear in mind the air is recirculated, not all of it goes through the filters and now imagine how bad a space habitat smells to a new arrival.

          2. crayon

            Re: Foot in mouth

            "Rotten through with corruption organization such as Roskosmos can't compete with efficient private enterprise."

            When your company is large enough and "too big to fail", "private enterprise" in the US means the public pays for the risk and the private enterprise reaps the rewards.

          3. Grinning Bandicoot

            Re: Foot in mouth

            No they will use the Long March. As from where the Russian shoots will be from is a question and that answer is in the hands of the Tsar.

        2. JCitizen Bronze badge
          Meh

          Re: Foot in mouth

          If I'm not mistaken, we will still keep the Russians on retainer for back up rescue flights; and will be paying millions of dollars for it.

        3. NerryTutkins

          Re: Foot in mouth

          Probably true, for human spaceflight.

          But let's be honest. Human spaceflight is a waste of time at present. What the hell do they do up there for months on end? Going round in circles, convincing us they're researching the long term effects of spaceflight, so they'll know more when the next couple of guys go up for another 6 month stint.

          If we as humans really wanted to expand our knowledge, and potentially find places worth sending humans to, we'd be doing robot missions to some of the moons of jupiter and saturn, sending submarines or airships or whatever and maybe looking into the more exotic proposals to get miniature probes to the nearest star. That would really be interesting.

          Instead we get to marvel at the unquestionably impressive technical achievement of humans going into space (first done 60 years ago), and then the less impressive spectacle of them floating around a space station doing fuck all useful or interesting stuff for 6 months except 'inspiring' us.

          1. MethosSr

            Re: Foot in mouth

            So I'm taking it you didn't see the article yesterday announcing that they've successfully reached the fifth state of matter, Bose Einstein condensates, for longer than a second on the space station? Apparently we've only been able to achieve this in micro to milliseconds before on Earth, as gravity requires too much energy input to reach this state.

        4. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Foot in mouth

          "Which is probably why he's so upset. NASA just took away his funding."

          Not really. The US had booked up available seats which are now opened for other countries to send astronauts. I'm hopeful to see lots of scientists from countries without big space programs getting a chance. The world needs more people in science and far fewer practicing law.

  2. MajDom

    The size of that chip on his shoulder is cosmic. What a bunch of drunken ramblings. This clown is the epitome of incompetence. As if he did anyone a favour with his Soyuz ferry service. Without its fat returns, Roscosmos would be a trampoline playground by now. Instead of investing that money in innovation, I'm sure it all went into dachas, women, and cars.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      The mention of money is probably what his rant is about. Instead of the US spending the money in Russia, it's now spending the money here in the States. Someone over there has to be really upset about this.

      1. MyffyW Silver badge

        Someone over there - bare chested and riding a horse, with small man syndrome - may have put him up to it.

        1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

          Someone over there - bare chested and riding a horse

          If he did that in space I'd be mightily impressed.

          1. nevarre

            What a picture that would make

            I wish I was artistically inclined. Anyone with photoshop skills want to take a crack at it? I almost sprayed soda across the room when I read this. Thanks for the laugh Arthur. I needed one today!

            1. Alan Brown Silver badge

              Re: What a picture that would make

              Anyone with photoshop skills want to take a crack at it?

              https://politicalmemestoday.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/my-little-putin1.jpg

        2. JCitizen Bronze badge
          Trollface

          I thought it was a bear he was riding? Tee Hee!

  3. Stuart Halliday

    Nice to see someone knocking the shine off SpaceX and NASA.

    The Americans don't care that the overall cost of a SpaceX launch is more expensive.

    They just love wallowing in patriotic slime.

    I've never seen a country so up its Ass with false Pride. Let's remember it's citizens enjoy killing each other over the slightest thing.

    1. Synkronicity

      lmao wut? How is the Crew Dragon more expensive at $55 million versus the $80+ mil the Russians were charging? Also remember (because Rogozin conveniently didn't) that the market price is not the same as the internal costs. The Crew Dragon is almost definitely cheaper than the Soyuz for the simple reason that it is reusable.

      Lastly, the Dragon spacecraft comes with a reusable rocket. The Soyuz is less a Kalashnikov and more of a Mosin Nagant.

      1. Rustbucket

        The Crew Dragon can also carry 7 passengers whereas the Soyuz can only carry 3 (although NASA will only have a maximum of 4 per launch, according to Wikipedia).

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Devil

          7 per launch vs 3

          Right, and I would expect something that can carry even more than 7 per launch at some point in the reasonably near future. So 'cost per seat' as well as 'cost per launch' could be significantly lower.

          As I understand it, the 'heavy' configuration has 2 re-usable and one "spent" booster after completing a launch. But this "spent" booster might still get some useful life if it remains in orbit until it can be used to shove things towards the moon, or maybe to truck things from one orbital path into another. All you'd need is a way to refuel it in space. (wash the windows and check the oil, thanks)

          Now I'm thinking "Used Booster Lot" - less than 50,000 flight-miles on this beauty, hardly a scratch on 'er! (maybe the Russians can get in on this with competing boosters?)

          1. red floyd

            Re: 7 per launch vs 3

            No, the center booster is also reusable after a Heavy launch. There are some configurations where they throw it away due to the desired target orbit. But in general, the center booster attempts to land on the drone ship, while the side boosters return to Canaveral.

          2. Grinning Bandicoot

            Re: 7 per launch vs 3

            Park 'em at Lagrange point. Old models back at L3 and the shinny eco models at L5.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          "The Crew Dragon can also carry 7 passengers whereas the Soyuz can only carry 3 "

          The number of people in the Dragon was reduced to 4 after it was found that the possibility of severe injury (whiplash) was too high. Better seats/restraints can be used with fewer astronauts.

          ISS accommodations and schedules have been based on a 3-person rotation so it's hard to say if having one more person on a flight is a better thing or not. It may come in handy once in a while, but may not be something worth doing on every flight but instead sending more supplies.

      2. Matdamon

        Actually only the booster is reusable. The Dragon crew capsule is not reusable per se. This is because NASA were not interested in booster development for crew capsule landing (using the liquid fuel abort rockets). So Dragon splashes down into Salt water. So while certain crew module assemblies may be recyclable, the capsule as a whole is not reusable.

        1. Steve Todd

          Erm, no. SpaceX plans to reuse the capsule at least for cargo and, I believe, NASA have signed off on the principal of reuse for crew purposes also.

        2. drewsup

          Uhmmm, NO

          A quick check reveals The Dragon crew Capsule is designed to be used up to 10 times before refit or be used as a cargo vessel.

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        > How is the Crew Dragon more expensive at $55 million versus the $80+ mil the Russians were charging?

        It was explained. It is effectively akin to comparing the manufactuing cost of your product to the retail cost of a similar rival product. The quoted cost of SpaceX is like the raw manufacturing cost without any profit being made, while the quoted cost of the Russian flight is what the Russians have chosen to charge their customers and is far higher than what it actually costs the Russians because they are making a profit.

    2. Apprentice of Tokenism
      Pint

      Have an upvote!

      Beer is on me.

    3. MyffyW Silver badge

      I am pleased to call a number of Americans and Russians I have met my friends.

      Based on my experience and their testimony, whilst the United States has many flaws, I would choose it's system - even with the current buffoon-in-chief - over Putin's Russia any day.

      1. spodula

        Not least of whuch because in the US you can protest against trump.

        In Russia, the Kremlin would have you all shot or disappeared.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          I'm not so sure that the consequences for making an *effective* protest would be a lot different between the two countries.

          1. Zuagroasta

            Oh, please, shut up. I would like to see what the actual consequences of setting up an "autonomous zone" in a Russian city would be.

        2. Claverhouse Silver badge

          Which country abolished the death penalty 25 years ago, and which country still executes people ?

  4. DropBear

    Sounds like a helluva lot of sour grapes to me. In the end, I seriously doubt they can put one man into orbit for less than SpaceX can. Being able to reuse your first stage kinda does that to you...

    1. JCitizen Bronze badge
      Go

      You mean reuse both boosters, 1st stage, and capsule - right?

  5. martinusher Silver badge

    You've got it backwards

    The big cheese at Roscosmos actually said something along the lines of the people who needed to be worried about compeititon from SpaceX wasn't Roscosmos but rather Boeing. The Russians have a reliable product, a medium lift vehicile that can get stuff to and from the ISS. His remarks about the cost come from the difference in cost between a smaller and relatively cheaper single use booster and a larger, reusable, booster.

    SpaceX's kit is very neat and I think we can all agree that landing the boosters for reuse is really cool. It would be naive to think that others haven't taken notice and are seriously looking into landing rockets.

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    When a monopoly comes to an end you can always hear the howling start. ..

    Normally at this point the monopolist, especially if they are a govt con-tractor, reaches for the lobbying firms to "explain" to con-gresspersons why it is essential the monopoly be maintained (for the good of the USA of course, nothing to do with the profit margin. Nosiree, nothing at all).

    BTW Both SX and Boeing have both succeeded in delivery vehicles despite at every round being underfunded by the Con-gress. The usual view has been this was to try to kill ISS so they could get the $40Bn project that is NASA's "dream" trip to Mars (IE 6 civil servants no earlier than 2030) and while continuing to pump $2Bn into the SLS (first flight now expected Nov 2018 Q42020 NET Q22021 (or whenever really).

    1. Adair Silver badge

      Re: When a monopoly comes to an end you can always hear the howling start. ..

      Which brings us neatly to the question of Huawei - that 'proven' security nightmare which cannot be allowed to threaten the fine upstanding purveyors of networking tech that are, and always will be, pargons of security and moral probity from the US of A. Nothing to do with profits at all, nosiree, nothing at all!

  7. Maelstorm
    Boffin

    They knew this was going to happen.

    Although I commend our Russian comrades on assisting NASA to get our astronauts and supplies into space and aboard the ISS, this was bound to happen when we here in the U.S.A regained the ability to launch crewed rockets. But with the Crew Dragon capsule costing $55m a seat vs. Russia's $90m a seat, I think that the Russians need to check their math. Since the Dragon can seat 7 passengers, any room that isn't used can be used for extra cargo, supplies, fuel, oxygen, etc.... Plus the Dragon is reusable, so the cost is actually less than that in terms of materials in the long run. The Soyuz capsule design dates back to the 1960s and has had a number of design modifications since then, but it's still the same basic design from back then. This would indicate that the Soyuz design is a good design because that design has been flying for 60 years now. Why reinvent the wheel if something is working?

    With that being said, however, the problem with reusable components is that due to the extreme environments that these components are subjected to, failure is always an option. Lessons from the past have revealed the folly of reusing components and the rigorous inspection regime that is required after each and every use. SpaceX must inspect every square inch of every component of the launch vehicle and the capsule before it can be used again. Fatigue cracks have a way of sneaking up on you in metal structures and components. Just ask any aircraft manufacturer such as Boeing, Airbus, Lockheed Martin, etc... about that in their airplanes. I'm not sure what materials the Dragon is made from, but any material will fail over time. Even carbon fiber has it's failure modes.

    Additionally, NASA itself is reusing tried and true designs for their new Space Launch System (SLS) which will be the most powerful rocket ever. They are using the designs of the Space Shuttle rocket engines in it. Once again, if something works, why change it?

    1. Pete 2

      Market price

      > But with the Crew Dragon capsule costing $55m a seat vs. Russia's $90m a seat

      I think there is an important difference between what something costs and what it is sold for.

      The russians charged the USA $90m a pop because they knew that the americans would pay that. Especially since they had no other options.

      However, that price does not mean that it cost Russia $90m to send a person to the ISS.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Market price

        Unlikely to be true. SpaceX have a decent margin, so by that argument a Crew Dragon seat doesn't 'cost' $55m either.

        I'm assuming Roscosmos was making extra-normal profits, as monopoly holders usually do.

        So it's only true if Roscosmos have now reduced their price to compete. Doesn't seem so, or he'd be announcing that too.

      2. Qumefox

        Re: Market price

        Cost is irrelevant in this case. Roscosmos wasn't selling soyuz seats at cost, they were selling them at market value. The same as Spacex is doing. Cost only matters to the entity producing said product/service. Everyone else's choice is either 'pay market value' or 'make it yourself' or 'do without'.

        So even if the production cost of a soyuz is cheaper than crew dragon after factoring in reusability, If roscosmos isn't selling soyuz seats at cost, then what cost is doesn't matter the slightest for anyone not roscosmos

        1. Steve Todd

          Re: Market price

          The “Market Price” argument only works if there’s a competitive market. Roscosmos was the only provider, so they were charging whatever they could get the US to pay rather than a reasonable markup from cost. Here in the west we tend to regulate what monopoly suppliers can charge to prevent them from abusing their position like this.

          The argument about the Soyuz being a smaller rocket, therefore cheaper only works for fuel costs, which are a tiny part of the overall launch. Yes, Boeing’s offering is always going to be more expensive than Soyuz because it works using the same strategy of throwing everything except the capsule away during a launch (and yes, buying a Russian engine for the job). SpaceX reusing their Falcon 9 changes the equation. They can launch for very much less than $55M per seat, but the development contract they had fixes this price over its life. Roscosmos now have a competitor and they are free to try to undercut them when it comes to rides up to the ISS (Russia and the US aren’t the only countries to send their nationals there).

          As for being mocked by the US, IIRC the reason for this was firstly the cause of the failure (poor quality control, which had become more prevalent in Roscosmos), and secondly the fact that the US were smarting from the amount they were being charged for this poor QC.

          1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

            Re: Market price

            We really cannot compare costs yet. A company that has a monopoly in a proven product will put a huge mark-up on its selling price, whilst a brand-new competior may well initially sell cheap (even below cost) in order to gain a foothold in the market. Only after both products have become established will the selling prices track the manufactuing costs more closely.

    2. PerlyKing Silver badge

      Re: Why reinvent the wheel if something is working?

      This would indicate that the Soyuz design is a good design because that design has been flying for 60 years now. Why reinvent the wheel if something is working?

      Because that's how we make progress. The trick is to not replace your current wheel until the new one is working better.

      Additionally, NASA itself is reusing tried and true designs for their new Space Launch System (SLS) which will be the most powerful rocket ever. They are using the designs of the Space Shuttle rocket engines in it. Once again, if something works, why change it?

      Do you know anything about the SLS that doesn't come from Boeing press releases? It will be the most powerful rocket ever if it flies, but it's unlikely to fly more than once per year, compared to nine launches so far this year for SpaceX.

      Using the designs for Space Shuttle Main Engines (SSMEs) is not a plus point in this context. An SSME is an engineering marvel, and is possibly the most complex, expensive rocket engine ever made. Because it was designed to be reused many times. What is the SLS going to do? Run them for a few minutes and then dump them into the Atlantic Ocean along with its expendable first stage.

      SLS is reusing "tried and true" designs in order to efficiently direct money from the US Government to Boeing and a select few others. In that sense it's working brilliantly, but in the sense of launching stuff into space they definitely need to change their approach.

  8. Maelstorm
    Joke

    In Soviet Russia, you don't launch the rockets. The rockets launch you.

  9. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge
    Coat

    Delivery?

    We returned him [Hague] and less than in six months we successfully delivered him to the destination point,

    That's better than DHL, when they can't deliver you have to go and fetch the stuff yourself.

    1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Delivery?

      At least you got your delivery. I've just had two DHL deliveries go totally AWOL without any response to my queries from the bastards. Fortunately the shippers had the decency to do the right thing.

      1. Anonymal coward

        Re: Delivery?

        UPS actually sent me a letter asking me (a) where I lived and (b) to pick the parcel up from them. The letter was addressed properly, so it reached me OK, and so I've never used UPS again if at all possible.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Re: Delivery?

          UPS actually sent me a letter asking me (a) where I lived and (b) to pick the parcel up from them. The letter was addressed properly, so it reached me OK

          Meaning their parcel service just couldn't find your address while the postal service could.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Delivery?

      "That's better than DHL, when they can't deliver you have to go and fetch the stuff yourself."

      Well, being better than DHL isn't setting the bar very high. And at $55m per item shipping, you might expect a slightly better service.

  10. Snapper

    Kalashnikov = 'Cheap'?

    The reason second-hand Kalashnikov's are cheap now is that they were made to a very high standard and in millions under the Soviets. Money that didn't go to hospitals and schools went to producing armaments.

    Kalashnikov's and the Soyuz have something in common, they were designed long ago by a system that threw money at them.

    1. John Jennings Bronze badge

      Re: Kalashnikov = 'Cheap'?

      not so much - most in the world are Chinese knockoffs. The design was near perfect for amnufacture, and the Russinas licensed it to anyone.

      1. Lars Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Kalashnikov = 'Cheap'?

        The AK was/is made in many countries. This video about one of the better.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ohnvp16-ab0

        Valmet M62/S: The AK in Finland

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Kalashnikov = 'Cheap'?

      "Money that didn't go to hospitals and schools went to producing armaments.".

      Many nations have lots in common.

    3. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Kalashnikov = 'Cheap'?

      "they were designed long ago by a system that threw money at them."

      yeah, well, it sorta HAD to happen that way, in the 1960's.

      I expect that once Boeing gets in there with actual rockets (successfully) flying actual astronauts to the ISS, others will eventually follow. Airbus might even get a rocket design going, under the principle of being the "low cost alternative".

      Something worth considering - when Toyota invented a particular type of practical hybrid gasoline engine for the Prius, it's my understanding that they licensed this design to other auto makers that wanted to build competing cars (and in Ford's case, they were working on a similar system already). In a similar way, SpaceX's "land on the tail" tech might find its way onto competing rockets through patent licensing. It's actually pretty smart to just go ahead and license the tech, just to keep people from making competing tech, and maybe with an agreement to share improvements among the stakeholders would be a win-win-win (etc.) for everyone.

      1. CliveS

        Re: Kalashnikov = 'Cheap'?

        Airbus might even get a rocket design going, under the principle of being the "low cost alternative".

        Airbus owns 50% of ArianeGroup, and ArianeGroup has a 74% share holding in Arianespace. Airbus also has a further 4% direct share holding in Ariancespace, so I can't see Airbus getting directly involved in building launchers when they're currently doing it by proxy, and spreading the risk financially.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "SpaceX's "land on the tail" tech might find its way onto competing rockets "

        I guess you don't know that SX don't patent stuff.

        It forces them to let people know far too much.

        And by people, they mean the Chinese.

        So anyone who want's to do this is free to do so.

        If they are prepared to take the sort of risks SX have taken and stop worrying about protecting their workforce forever, as Arianespace's CEO seems to be doing. It's a stupid, short sighted strategy that wastes time trying to stop the inevitable.

    4. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: Kalashnikov = 'Cheap'?

      Kalashnikov's and the Soyuz have something in common, they were designed long ago by a system that threw money at them.

      Wrong, the AK-47 was developed by Mikhail Kalashnikov because of his experiences in WWII.

  11. John Jennings Bronze badge

    Tbh some of this is lost in translation.

    The soyuz and progress (the cargo variant) spaceships have together successfully launched more than 300 flights - with only 2 with fatalities in 60 years.

    Any cost of development has been amoritised over this number.

    While the US was charged 90M per rocket - that was not the cost of the rocket launch. NASA did subsidize Roscosmanos for many years.

    The base cost of the SpaceX seat is likely more expensive at cost than the either Progress or Soyuz.

    The cost of recovering a booster is likely touch and go economically over the cost of a mission. We have seen Space X not recover some rockets where the payload was going somewhere inconvenient. Remember that the recovery costs weitght in fuel to return - reducing the effectiveness of the booster.

    I think I would still rather fly in a soyuz than a spaceX ship, given the choice.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      "I think I would still rather fly in a soyuz than a spaceX ship, given the choice."

      You've got to be able to squeeze in... so I'll take the (relatively) roomy SpaceX capsule please.

  12. Steve Todd
    FAIL

    The Crew Dragon has a payload capacity of 6000Kg

    The Soyuz orbital components have a total launch mass of 7150Kg for everything, including cargo. So unless the empty weight (including fuel) is less than 1150Kg then he’s talking out of his arse.

    The Soyuz rocket it’s self can only lift about 8000Kg to LEO, whereas the Falcon 9 can manage 22,000Kg. It’s obvious that the Soyuz can’t compete, even at the same per-seat price.

    1. John Jennings Bronze badge

      Re: The Crew Dragon has a payload capacity of 6000Kg

      Payload mass per launch is important, but its not the only criteria - if it were, the ISS would have burned up years ago.

      Being able to launch smaller packages more often and reliability has its place- otherwise we would not be interested in Rocket Lab et al.

      Even with that said - the astronauts havent landed back yet on Dragon. They have completed the first two parts - liftoff and docking - many risks happen on the way back down, as we know from Colombia and Salutz 11. Lets hope that they stay safe - its a dangerous business.

      1. Steve Todd

        Re: The Crew Dragon has a payload capacity of 6000Kg

        While I agree that being able to get supplies up there on a timely bases is more important than the launch cost, the quote I was responding to was this:

        “ Rogozin, however, was adamant that a Russian launch is, in fact, cheaper. He said that the American spacecraft was more than double the weight of its Russian counterpart, meaning less freight could be delivered into orbit.”

        This is patently incorrect. The Soyuz system is either more expensive to launch than Crew Dragon, or they are ripping the US off shamelessly. Either way the Dragon can deliver more to the ISS, both in terms of Crew and cargo, as it’s payload capacity is significantly higher. It being a heavier system is besides the point.

        1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

          Re: The Crew Dragon has a payload capacity of 6000Kg

          > The Soyuz system is either more expensive to launch than Crew Dragon, or they are ripping the US off shamelessly.

          No, those are not the only alternatives. Crew Dragon may be selling its services at less than cost in order to gain a market. And whether the profit made by a company on its product is enough to be described as a "rip-off" is completely subjective. I consider that Apple's mark-up is a shameless rip-off, but many would disagree. Same with Dyson's products. At the end of the day, capatilist doctrine says that the market dictates what is a fair price and nothing else.

          1. Richard 12 Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: The Crew Dragon has a payload capacity of 6000Kg

            Crew Dragon is definitely not selling below cost.

            That would bankrupt them. They don't have much in the way of cash reserves and the contract is for a lot of launches, so they can't raise their man-launch prices for several years.

            You can only do loss-leader in two situations:

            It helps you sell some high-margin consumable or related products (see printers, pod coffee, supermarket) or you have sufficient cash reserves to wait out the failure of your competitors (see Amazon)

            Neither of those apply here.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        WTF?

        many risks happen on the way back down, as we know from Colombia and Salutz 11

        Well Columbia had wings (which Dragon does not) and Salute 11 was about 40 years ago and not made in the USA.

        As for how long they are staying that was at the invitation of NASA.

        And let's not forget that SX (unlike Boeing) have been delivering cargo for the last 9 years to ISS on quite a similar design.

        So thank you for your concern. I think they have a pretty good shot at landing alive.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Payload and freight weight

      FYI: rather than paraphrase the Russian space boss, I've dropped in his quotes verbatim so you can see where he's trying to come from.

      C.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    chill people

    it's just a self-publicity fart, riding on wound pride. He can say whatever he likes, but it has zero impact on reality (though in internet space every one can hear him scream ;).

  14. Kaltern

    Roomy

    And the Dragon has touchscreens. I mean... I dunno how much work the pilot needed to do to dock, but they seemed to be accurate enough.

    Touchscreens. To pilot a ship. Very Trek.

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Roomy

      Very trek, but is it an improvment? Tesla driver's attempts to replace the steering wheel with a touchscreen have not always been successful.

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: Roomy

        And there was a certain naval ship accident that was attributed to having touchscreen throttles rather than physical levers. Touchscreen require you to look at the screen when operating the control. Physical levers can be located and operated by touch alone.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: Roomy

          Although that particular incident wasn't really because of touchscreens, it was because the touchscreen layout could be customized in a truly insane way.

          Only someone who has never seen a bridge or engine room would let you delete one of the throttles...

  15. Brangdon Bronze badge

    US cheaper?

    NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said partnering with a private company like SpaceX was necessary as it had become too expensive to purchase a journey to the floating space lab using Roscosmos’ Soyuz rockets. SpaceX, on paper at least, works out millions of dollars cheaper than using Soyuz.

    However, Boeing's Starliner is more expensive than Russia, at $90M per seat, and NASA don't seem to mind paying that. So this is not really about cost.

    1. keith_w Bronze badge

      Re: US cheaper?

      but they get some of that back through taxes.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: US cheaper?

        Not really. Taxes paid for the entire design and development too. Buying from the Russians, the price you pay is all you pay because their tax payers paid for the design and development.

        1. Richard 12 Silver badge

          Re: US cheaper?

          Not what the OP meant.

          If NASA buy from a company that employs lots of US taxpayers, some proportion of what they pay the private company is paid to those workers in wages, and is taxed by the US either as wages or in sales and other consumer taxes.

          In theory some part of what they pay should also become taxed profits, but that doesn't happen in reality.

          So there is some valid "discounting" to be made. Not really sure how large that would be, though unlikely to be greater than 10%

  16. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Meh

    Sour grapes

    Sounds like he's really mourning the lost revenue. Also with Soyuz launches likely less frequent now, due to less demand, overall they are likely to cost Russia more to maintain, and all that money coming from local sources. And at least the money going towards Dragon launches is (mostly) staying within the US and not going to a country that is at best a fair weather friend to the USA.

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Sour grapes

      The Russians are big supporters of the US democratic system.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It’s all about prestige not money, and has been since the Space Race began.

    Just extreme willy-waving.

    1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

      A couple of points:

      There has been actual useful science done in space which has benefited us down here on the ground.

      Having all humans on one planet is like putting all your eggs in one basket: if something goes wrong you can lose them all.

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        > Having all humans on one planet is like putting all your eggs in one basket: if something goes wrong you can lose them all.

        Yes maybe. But we are so far away from the possibility of setting up a long-term self-sustaining colony on a different planet that it is a sci-fi pipe-dream. Better ways of getting to another planet is the very least of the problems that will need to be solved. Talk of "terra-forming" a whole planet is laughable - we cannot alter the climate of Earth by even a tiny amount in the direction we want, so what chance of making changes that are many, many magnitudes greater anywhere else?

        Not to say that we should not be working toward that goal - but to think that it is achievable within the next several centuries (at the very best) is delusional.

        Still waiting for flying cars to become commonplace - as has been predicted regularly over the past 70 years - and surely represent a fraction of the design challenges that need to be overcome by any off-world settlement. It would be a lot easier to build an undersea city.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        "Having all humans on one planet is like putting all your eggs in one basket:"

        Like a basket? Are you a proponent of the hollow Earth theory? Or are the eggs more your thing? Maybe your one of those heretical Big Endeians?

  18. Greg Dolph

    Endeavour war the wrong name

    They should have named the Dragon capsule Trampoline instead!

    1. Spherical Cow Bronze badge

      Re: Endeavour war the wrong name

      Musk did mention the trampoline: https://www.wionews.com/world/trampoline-is-working-musk-taunts-russian-space-agency-chief-302172

  19. John Jennings Bronze badge

    Boeing recieved 4.82 billion in grants and contracts to design and build the Starliner. They charge 90m per seat on top of that- but have yet to acctually complete a mission.

    SpaceX recieved 3.4 billion in precontracts to develop Dragon, and charge 55M per seat.

    Roscosmos charge 89 M per seat with no upfront grant.

    evin the OIG - Office of Inspector General - found that the home grown solutions were more expensive.

    BTW, to put it in todays costs - appollo cost around 152 Billion, in todays money.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      To be fair now much of those precontracts for SpaceX were specifically for the *crew* dragon, rather than the cargo version? And how much is "potential flight contract value"?

      And the bigger point is that the US are no longer dependent on a nation that they'd rather not rely on.

      NASA investment in SpaceX for Crew Dragon:

      2010 - $0 (no award in CCDev 1)

      2011 - $75m (CCDev 2)

      2012 - $440m (CCiCap)

      2012 - $9.6m (CPC ph1)

      i.e. a smidge over half a billion, not 3.4.

      The total potential flight contract value is $2.6 billion - but that's the cost of flights, not an additional investment.

      That's only 20 seats (not flights) before their costs are below "continuing to buy" Soyuz flights, they're already 10% of the way there after 1 flight. The standard flight is scheduled to take 3 or 4, so from the 6th/8th launch on they'll be saving money.

      NASA have, I think, bought a total of 71 seats on Soyuz... Including the "backup" seat they have for this autumn. Those would easily have been enough to fund and pay for spaceX flights three times over (although the technology and political will didn't exist for a while).

  20. fishman

    As far as costs go, just look what has happened to the Russian share of the commercial satellite business - it's dropped way off, thanks to the far cheaper SpaceX/Falcon 9. If Russian rockets were so cheap, why are they so uncompetitive in the commercial satellite launch business?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cost and Market Prices

    ok just to be clear.. when he meant cost and market prices, he meant that russian _costs_ are cheaper than spacex even with the latter's booster reuse, they just choose to charge more than 20x (at $90M/launch) their real "costs".. spacex guestimated 'real' launch cost: ~$5M (from $50M/launch / 10 times reuse) ie russian per launch cost is < $5M.

  22. llaryllama

    Team work makes the dream work

    The constant bickering between America / "The West" and Russia fueled by Putin and his cronies just makes me sad.

    Russia and the US have a lot of common ground, being pals would be good for the world at large.

    From a scientific perspective both countries have made enormous contributions to space science. The only barriers to proper collaboration are political, put up by elites clinging to power on both sides.

    I hope my kids will see the day when Roscosmos tips their hat to SpaceX and says "good job", while NASA replies with a "not too shabby yourself".

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