Dmitry Rogozin, the new chief of Russia’s national space agency, Roscosmos, is extending an unusual invitation to SpaceX CEO Elon Musk to be a guest of his family in Moscow to discuss rockets, aliens and maybe how to save life on Earth by exploring outer space.
Rogozin took office as Roscosmos’ director general in May 2018, succeeding Igor Komarov. Having watched private-sector space companies led by American billionaires successfully build reusable rockets and fly civilians into space from an ocean away, Rogozin believes that Russia’s own ultra-wealthy class should build their equivalents of SpaceX and Blue Origin.
“I like what your people are doing—people who spend their own money on things useful for overall society,” Rogozin told CNN this week in his first interview with Western media since taking the helm of Roscosmos. “Our millionaires prefer to invest more in yachts rather than in spaceships. But maybe kids of current Russian millionaires will be much more wise creatures.”
Rogozin particularly admires Musk, whose SpaceX is dominating America’s commercial space industry from launching internet-beaming satellites to low Earth orbit to regularly sending astronauts to the International Space Station.
“Mr. 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.”
Rogozin said he would like to invite Musk to his home and discuss “exploring the universe, extraterrestrial life, and how we can use space to preserve life on Earth.”
“I already set the teakettle on heat,” he said.
Responding to the invitation, Musk tweeted on Tuesday, “Thanks! What’s your favorite tea?”
Nevertheless, Rogozin replied, “Let’s start with my grandma’s favorite Indian tea.”
Rogozin and Musk are no strangers to each other. In 2014, when Russia’s space sector was sanctioned by the U.S. for Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, Rogozin, then Russia’s deputy prime minister of defense, tweeted that “I suggest to the USA to bring their astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline,” Rogozin said on Twitter.
At the time NASA was solely dependent on Russia’s Soyuz rockets to send astronauts to the ISS. That changed last year when SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully launched two American astronauts to the space station for the first time in a decade. Musk tweeted in response to Rogozin shortly after the launch, “The trampoline is working.”
Roscosmos is currently developing its own reusable rocket in a project called Amur. Rogozin hopes to have it ready to fly by 2025.