Dmitry Rogozin heads up Roscosmos, Russia’s equivalent to NASA. The former leader of the nationalist Rodina party told CNN that he had the highest respect for the SpaceX founder and wouldn’t hesitate to invite him round to his home for a cup of tea and a chat. He praised the entrepreneur for his work as an inventor, claiming he was fulfilling many of the projects that the Russian Space Industry had long dreamed of doing.
“Mr Elon Musk realises many of the ideas and thoughts that we wanted to realise, but did not get to because, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, our space program halted for some time,” he said.
“We respect him as an organiser of the space industry and as an inventor, who is not afraid to take risk.”
Mr Musk’s SpaceX company brought to an end a long standing partnership between NASA and Roscosmos.
Up until last year, American astronauts travelled to the International Space Station on Russian Soyuz rockets.
However, NASA now uses SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule to catapult its astronauts into orbit.
Russia’s space chief is keen to meet up with Mr Musk and is inviting him “to be a guest of my family”, so they can 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.
The SpaceX founder has made no secret of his ambitions to colonise planets in the solar system with human settlements.
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Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s top astrophysicist, told an audience at the World Government Summit in Dubai that living on Mars would not be easy due to its notoriously hostile environment.
He said: “The idea of Elon Musk to have a million people settle on Mars is a dangerous delusion.
“Living on Mars is no better than living on the South Pole or the tip of Mount Everest.”