A spokesperson for Russia’s space agency took a dig at the U.S. after the successful launch of two U.S. astronauts aboard a SpaceX craft bound for the International Space Station (ISS)–while also describing President Donald Trump’s praise of the successful mission as “hysteria.”
“The hysteria raised after the successful launch of the [SpaceX] Crew Dragon spacecraft is hard to understand,” Vladimir Ustimenko, a spokesperson for Roscosmos, wrote on Twitter, referring to Trump’s statement.
“What has happened should have happened long ago. Now it’s not only the Russians flying to the ISS, but also the Americans. Well that’s wonderful!” he added.
NASA had relied on Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, to transport American astronauts to the ISS since the U.S. space agency’s final space shuttle flight in 2011. Since then, the U.S. had been working with SpaceX and Boeing to end its reliance on Russia for transport into space.
On Saturday, SpaceX, which is owned by billionaire Elon Musk, successfully launched to astronauts from a NASA launchpad in Florida, which previously served as the launch point for the historic Apollo and space shuttle missions. The Crew Dragon attached to the Falcon 9 rocket took off at 3:22 p.m. after a previous launch was aborted last Wednesday due to poor weather conditions. On Sunday, the Crew Dragon arrived and docked at the space station.
Newsweek has reached out to NASA and the Russian embassy in Washington, D.C. for further comment.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said after the Crew Dragon launch, that NASA and Roscomos would likely maintain positive ties moving forward.
“They [Roscosmos] believe in the partnership and so I think it’s going to remain strong,” Bridenstine said.
Trump hailed the launch as major progress in space exploration by the U.S.
“Today, the groundbreaking partnership between NASA and SpaceX has given our nation the gift of an unmatched power — a state-of-the-art spaceship to put our astronauts into orbit at a fraction of the cost of the space shuttle. And it’s much better,” Trump said Saturday, praising the launch of the Crew Dragon.
The president said the astronauts aboard the SpaceX craft had now joined “the ranks of just seven prior American astronauts who have made the perilous maiden voyage to test a new class of spacecraft.”
“From now on, the United States will leverage the fast-growing capabilities of our commercial sector and the finest pieces of real estate on Earth, which you need very badly, to send U.S. astronauts into space,” Trump added. “Today’s launch makes clear that the commercial space industry is the future.”
The U.S. and Russia, formerly the Soviet Union, have been competitive about space exploration for decades. The Soviet Union kicked off the space race by becoming the first nation in the world to send a man-made satellite, Sputnik 1, into outer space in 1957. They then sent the first human into space to orbit the Earth, Russian Lt. Yuri Gagarin, a few years later in 1961.
Alan Shepard was the first American to fly into space one year later in 1962, while the first U.S. satellite, Explorer 1, launched into space came in 1958. Although Russia initially led the space race, the U.S. became the first country to land a man on the moon in 1969.