This may seem repetitive, but SpaceX launched its newest batch of Starlink satellites from Florida in the early mornings of March 9. During the count down, SpaceX poked fun at being called a “broomstick” by Roscosmos Director General Dmitry Rogozin.
On top of a Falcon 9 rocket, SpaceX lifted 48 Starlink satellites into orbit, marking the company’s 10th launch this year alone and 143rd Falcon 9 in total. This launch will further build out the constellation of other Starlink satellites, for which SpaceX holds the title for largest satellite operator.
During today’s countdown for the Starlink Group 4-10 mission, SpaceX’s Launch Director poked fun at being coined a “broomstick” by saying just before liftoff, “Time to let the American Broomstick fly and hear the sound of freedom.”
If you don’t know the reference, in response to worldwide sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Rogozin put a hold on selling engines to US companies and pulled all personnel supporting Atlas V and Antares launches. He then joked that the US would only be able to get to space on its broomsticks.
Sadly Rogozin has forgotten that rockets using Russian-made engines are being phased out for newer and more efficient US engines. The US also has a thriving industry with SpaceX, Rocket Lab, and others growing a sustainable market, unlike Russia’s reliance on state-owned corporations and just a handful of commercial launches a year (now less with OneWeb pulling out).
The Atlas V, which uses Russia’s RD-180 engine, is being retired in favor of the Vulcan rocket with Blue Origin’s BE-4, hopefully launching within the next year. Then Northop Grumman’s Antares, which uses the RD-181 engine, has only two flights left with no sign of further use. This move by Russia might mean the end of Northrop’s launcher, but Cygnus, so far Antares’ only payload, can fly on other rockets if needed.
Either way, this stunt to hinder the US space industry will likely fail to come anywhere close to what Russia’s industry has already felt because of this war.