by Douglas Messier
Roscosmos General Director Dmitry Rogozin is protesting the inclusion of Russian Mission Control operator TsNIIMash and Soyuz rocket manufacturer RSC Progress on a list of 103 Russian, Chinese and Venezuelan companies sanctioned by the U.S. government due to their connections to the defense sectors of their home nations.
“The [Military End User] List informs exporters, reexporters, and transferors that a license will be required to export, reexport, or transfer (in-country) designated items to listed entities,” the Commerce Department said in a press release.
“The U.S. Government has determined that these entities represent an unacceptable risk of use in or diversion to a ‘military end use’ or ‘military end user’ in China, Russia, or Venezuela,” the press release said.
The Commerce Department added 103 companies to the so-called blacklist. The list included 45 Russian and 58 Chinese companies.
Rogozin, who is personally under U.S. sanctions, called the restrictions “illegal…as any other sanctions imposed against Russian individuals and legal entities earlier” in a statement posted on the Roscosmos website.
He also called the inclusion of TsNIIMash and RSC Progress, which are part of Roscosmos, as “stupid because the companies arbitrarily attributed to ‘military end users’ are not and have never been the ‘military end users’.”
TsNIIMash oversees the operations of Russian spaceports and related facilities.
“TsNIIMash is the industry leading scientific institute; it includes the ISS Mission Control Center, with a group of NASA specialists permanently present there. Don’t they not know there is nothing there that could connect this institute with military research?” Rogozin said.
“Or, for example, RSC Progress, which somehow also got into this sanctions list. This Samara enterprise manufactures the legendary Soyuz-2 launch vehicles, with the help of which the Soyuz MS spacecraft has been taking American astronauts to the ISS for 10 years already,” Rogozin added.
NASA was forced to launch its astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Russian Soyuz rockets and spacecraft following the retirement of the space shuttle in July 2011. That reliance ended earlier this year when SpaceX flew American astronauts to the space station on its Falcon 9 boosters and Crew Dragon spacecraft.
“Now, it turns out that our American colleagues have their ‘trampoline working’ again, and the first thing they did is spit into the Samara well. Isn’t it too early, colleagues, in case your ‘trampoline’ breaks again suddenly and you will have to satisfy your passion for space from our well again?” Rogozin said.
During an earlier round of sanctions, Rogozin had suggested that NASA launch its astronauts to ISS using trampolines.
“These sanctions are harmful, because they will create additional obstacles and irritations in such an important cooperation between Russians and Americans in space and on the ISS in particular,” the Roscosmos boss said.
“Therefore, for the sake of preserving our common cause, I demand that the US Government immediately lift these sanctions against our enterprises. We will assume that this is a ‘misunderstanding’,” he added.