The world marvels at Elon Musk's rocket

The US company SpaceX - whose boss is Tesla founder Elon Musk - launched Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful rocket, from Cape Canaveral on Tuesday. Many observers are thrilled by the project but for commentators in Russia it highlights the failings of their own country's space programme.

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Vedomosti (RU) /

Russia's embarrassing space failures

The launch of Falcon Heavy stands in stark contrast to the bruised reputation of Russia's space programme, Vedomosti notes:

“Russia's space programme lost its romantic flair many years ago and no longer fills the papers with sensational news. Nowadays hardly anyone knows the names of the Russian cosmonauts on board the ISS, whereas the many scandals surrounding the construction of the Vostochny Cosmodrome are on everyone's minds. The people have grown used to reports of accidents or postponed launches of Russian rockets. ... At times these even sound like jokes. And in fact one wonders what is more embarrassing: sending a sports car up into space or the Proton Rocket encountering major problems because a warehouse manager at the engine plant was on sick leave?”

Den (UA) /

One big step for freedom

The most striking thing about the SpaceX launch is that free people have been able to realise their dreams in the private sector, journalist Sergey Grabovsky writes in Den:

“Musk used all of mankind's achievements to get into space, but on the way his team was more effective than its competitors because it wasn't hemmed in by state officials. And to make his dreams come true Musk neither had to join the SS and make the V2 - like Wernher von Braun, nor sit in Stalinist camps and then 'make amends' for his 'guilt' in secret research labs like [Sergei] Korolev and [Valentin] Glushko. ... Musk was able to avoid all that, and this means that the world has changed from the bottom up.”

Die Welt (DE) /

Space becoming a commodity

Writing in the daily paper Die Welt author Kathrin Spoerr sees the action as a sign of Musk's boundless arrogance:

“It says: Look at me! Me! I have entered space with the best rocket and the best car. It's as if he'd put his stamp on space with this. ... We don't know what he'll send up next time; whether he'll want to work with Nasa, that is with the state, in future. He sent up a Tesla 'because he can', as we could reverently read everywhere. ... Elon Musk has fulfilled humankind's dream of flying to the stars, and the first thing he did was to turn space into a commodity. But space shouldn't belong to the man with the most money and the coolest car. It doesn't belong to Elon Musk.”

gazeta.ru (RU) /

US private projects leaving Russia trailing behind

Russia's space programmes are in danger of being taken over by the privately-funded projects, gazeta.ru fears:

“We're falling behind when it comes to launching unmanned spacecraft, while the Americans are demonstrating the potential of privately funded space exploration. China is also actively catching up despite lots of fiascos. But the Chinese state isn't being tight with money for space travel, whereas in Russia the space programmes are generally underfunded and hampered by heavy military spending. ... We may launch almost as many rockets per year as that noisy American entrepreneur Elon Musk. But without people like Musk, without private risk and commercial interests it will become difficult for Russia's space programmes to keep up with the Americans'.”

Milliyet (TR) /

A steep ascent

For Milliyet Elon Musk is a man with his finger on the pulse of the time:

“With Falcon Heavy, Musk has not only challenged Nasa. He's also pulled off the PR event of the century by letting the entire world watch the whole thing live. Of course 13 years of work, 90 million dollars, the most powerful rockets of our age and a difficult and protracted process including a successful start and a successful landing are behind it all. Up to now the only brand name that had used space for marketing was Red Bull when it sponsored Felix Baumgartner's free fall from space back down to earth. But with this action Musk has set the bar much higher. Now there are just two questions: how long the Tesla's battery will last, and whether or not its lifetime can be extended with solar modules.”