Rogozin Accuses Musk of Dumping Below-Cost Boosters on Market

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. (Credit: A. Savin)

Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin says Russia is working on a reusable launch vehicle that would land back on the runway and accused the U.S. government of letting Elon Musk’s SpaceX of dumping below-cost boosters on the international market to kill competition.

The new heavy Soyuz-5 rocket, currently developed by Russia, must become more powerful yet remain cheaper than the products supplied by the competitors, the recently-elected head of the Russian space corporation told TASS in an extensive interview on Thursday.

While Moscow is looking into adding reusable elements to the Soyuz-5 to further lower launch costs, reusability is not a universal solution to achieve this goal, Rogozin believes. Musk’s SpaceX, which is currently the only company to have launched reusable rockets commercially, manages to cut the costs by other means, the Russian space boss pointed out.

“Musk’s advantage is not the reusability but that the US government gives him opportunities for dumping [prices] on the market. Musk sells his launches twofold to the Pentagon, covering his losses on the commercial market and killing competitors, who lack such a generous state behind them,” Rogozin said.

Due to its geography, Russia is largely unable to make Falcon-style reusable boosters that would make vertical powered descent to a movable platform at sea, and so it has to follow an alternate path sticking to horizontal landings or relying on parachutes, he said.

  • redneck

    Due to its’ geography and launch technique, Russia doesn’t need to do barge landings as they can do land-landings downrange.

  • ThomasLMatula

    You mean that they wouldn’t work from their new far eastern launch site?

  • Zed_WEASEL

    Rogozin is just a sore loser. SpaceX is still cheaper than any other USAF/NRO launch provider. The GAO stated in a recent report that the Falcon 9 was priced at $61M per flight with no thrills. However mission assurance requirements from the US gov’t pushes up the prices for all launch providers.

  • Cameron

    Right, and they see no issue in dropping boosters down-range on land presently.

  • Arthur Hamilton

    Spoken like the dinosaurs that spit on and mocked a businessman trying to make a legitimate business deal in 2002. They haven’t changed a bit. The Russians are the ones responsible for Musk being unleashed on the world.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    I liked this ….

    ““Musk’s advantage is not the reusability but that the US government
    gives him opportunities for dumping [prices] on the market. Musk sells
    his launches twofold to the Pentagon, covering his losses on the
    commercial market and killing competitors, who lack such a generous
    state behind them,” Rogozin said.”

    He’s wrong then he’s right. SX get’s to sell their boosters twice. Because of ? Reusability. And he’s complaining about SX being able to sell at twice the price to the US G and complains that SX has a generous state being their sponsor? Not totally wrong, but Mr Rogozin’s organizations are owned by the state he is a part of. Gotta love it when a state sponsored and owned corporation complains about the unfair advantage of another state sponsored enterprise.

  • Vladislaw

    I believe it was a billion dollar a year in assured access and 300 million ULA launches figured more in it…

  • Pete Zaitcev

    It was an obvious lapse of logic. Now what they really don’t want is building a railroad to every landing pad, and so they would really like some cross-range maneuver. But even that is easier than RTLS wrt. dV needed.

  • envy

    He’s insinuating that the price difference between USG launches and commercial is mostly profit. Ariane Group’s CEO has said the same. Both are wrong.

    The US government pays for more services, which require SpaceX to do more work to earn that money. Also, the announced figures include payload processing, tracking, telemetry, etc. costs that don’t even go to SpaceX but to other contractors. The final profit margin on USG launches is probably higher, but not nearly enough to price commercial below cost.

    In short, that whole argument is built on misinformation.

  • envy

    Musk probably would have launched his rockets and gone away if they had sold them to him.

  • DP Huntsman

    China, who’s government also owns its rocket business, as well as Europe (essentially ditto), also have both complained in similar fashion. The saddest part? I think they all believe their own bs- instead of the truth.

  • ronsmytheiii

    A bit thick coming from the guy who was appointed by Putin to his position, gets most of its profits from monopolizing Russian Government launches, and leading a company that STILL USES RUSSIAN SOLDIERS FOR LABOR (ie Roscosmos isnt paying their checks).

  • Paul_Scutts

    Shock, denial, anger and, finally, acceptance/imitation. The Russians are now at the third stage of involvement with true re-usability. Gotta love the boo-ho, not fair, whining and whinging.

  • Richard Malcolm

    Alain Charmeau seems to enjoy this excuse for struggling to meet the SpaceX challenge, too.

    American space launchers do have a built-in advantage in having access to the military which spends far more than any other on orbital access. But for the past 15 years, the launcher which has actually benefited from that access has actually been ULA, not SpaceX. And ULA isn’t interested in parlaying that advantage into any role on the competitive global launch market.

  • ThomasLMatula

    But since ULA uses Russians engines they make money everytime an Atlas is launched. Yes, the Russians even make a profit on the Atlas launches for the military.

  • Richard Malcolm

    Exactly so, Thomas!

    ULA is the perfect American launcher company from the Russian perspective, honestly. They buy a lot of Russian engines, and they don’t compete for global commercial payloads.

    SpaceX, however, is quite another story.

  • Ignacio Rockwill

    Have any of the domestic suppliers accused Musk of getting unfair treatment from the government? I’m not recalling any, but could be wrong.

  • AdmBenson

    You know, Soyuz boosters are pretty robust. Seems like they could do something like a helicopter air snare (or maybe a gigantic Mr. Steven style recovery net) to get it back on the ground without a propulsive landing. Russia has a lot of smart guys. I’m sure they’ll figure something out.

  • windbourne

    Isn’t that the funny thing. Europe, Russia, CHina, India, etc are all gripping about this. Yet, even spaceX’s gov launches are way less than what anybody else will charge.
    For Europe/Russia/etc to have a legitimate complaint, they would have to be less than SX’s gov launches, but more than SX’s commercial launches. Instead, they are all charging so much more.

    And wait until BFR hits the market.

    BTW, China and India have low prices, but they do it by manipulating their money and all of them, have heavy heavy gov subsidies.

  • windbourne

    I doubt that. I suspect they all know the truth.
    It is just that they are hoping that everybody else will be idiots as well.

  • windbourne

    ULA, Boeing, L-Mart, etc have all said that SX gets preferential treatment. Of course, ULA denied that the 1B yearly subsidy that they have gotten for over 10 years amounts to anything. So, ULA’s 1o+ B subsidy, which is more than everything that Musk has gotten with SX, Tesla, Solar City, Boring company, COMBINED, and ULA claims, it is nothing.

  • windbourne

    then Russia is getting a major whammie out of this.
    1) they are losing the commercial market.
    2) they are losing the engine market.
    3) they are losing the HSF market.

    Basically, America has paid for Russia’s space program for the last 25 years.
    Now, they have to pay for it. That will be a LOT of money.

  • Zed_WEASEL

    China and India does not have low prices for GTO flights, The price per kilogram for their launchers is about 3 to 5 times greater than SpaceX, never mind that their launchers also lofted less total payload mass.

  • ThomasLMatula

    We will probably get to buy out their half the ISS cheap when their space program goes bankrupt.

  • Vladislaw

    Just think if ULA, Russia, Europe … would have GIVEN a rocket to Musk for FREE when he wanted to launch a green house to Mars ..

    man .. talk about hind sight in action ..

  • Jeff2Space

    Doubtful. As far as I know, the US doesn’t even have “command and control” over the FGB, which the US paid for. Russia isn’t about to hand over the keys to their side of the ISS if they haven’t even done that for the FGB.

  • Michael Halpern

    The old areospace companies can only argue until someone points out government money spacex is receiving in comparison to them

  • windbourne

    They ignore that fact.