The head of Russia’s space agency is praising billionaires such as Elon MuskElon Reeve MuskPrince William urges focus on saving planet instead of space travel Democrats' electric vehicle push sparks intense lobbying fight Blue Origin is taking William Shatner to space — but can it distract from internal criticism? MORE and Jeff BezosJeffrey (Jeff) Preston BezosReplace Kamala Harris with William Shatner to get kids excited about space exploration Shatner pushes back on Prince William over space flight comments Shatner says he was struck by 'fragility of this planet' on trip to space MORE for their achievements in developing commercial space flights, while also bashing Russia’s wealth class, who he said “prefer to invest in yachts.”
Dmitry Rogozin, the head of Russian space agency Roscosmos, said in a CNN interview aired Tuesday with space and defense correspondent Kristin Fisher that developing an industry for space tourism was “a wonderful idea.”
"Our millionaires prefer to invest more in yachts rather than in spaceships," Rogozin lamented in his first interview with Western media since becoming the agency’s director general in 2018.
"But maybe kids of current Russian millionaires will be much more wise creatures,” he added.
Rogozin went on to commend the work of Bezos and Virgin Galactic’s Richard Branson, who both launched into space over the summer in crewed tests of their commercial spacecrafts.
"I like what your people are doing — people who spend their own money on things useful for overall society," the Russian official told CNN.
Russia’s space chief Dmitry Rogozin says he admires Elon Musk’s SpaceX.— New Day (@NewDay) September 7, 2021
Musk has “many 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,” he said. https://t.co/2IRruYqZ8h pic.twitter.com/lFOR9OD2af
Rogozin said that Russia, which provided the rocket that launched the world’s first space tourist more than 20 years ago, has had limited space development following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“[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,” he added of Musk, who he has directed criticisms toward in the past.
The Russian space head added that he wished to invite Musk to visit Russia and “be a guest of my family" to discuss "exploring the universe, extraterrestrial life, and how we can use space to preserve life on Earth."
Rogozin also signaled a change from threats in June to leave the International Space Station (ISS) program, telling CNN that the country hopes to remain a partner to NASA.
The Russia space head had previously said that his country would withdraw from the ISS program until U.S. sanctions on Russian companies were lifted.
“Either we work together, in which case the sanctions are lifted immediately, or we will not work together and we will deploy our own station,” he warned in June.
The sanctions placed limits on U.S. firms looking to conduct business with companies deemed by the federal government to have ties with the Russian military.
Rogozin had also threatened in April to launch an independent Russian space station by 2030 following more than two decades of collaboration on the ISS.