12:50 GMT18 April 2021
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    The South Africa-born business magnate and private space company pioneer enjoys a massive cult following online, with supporters seeing him as a visionary leader who will take humanity to Mars. Others are more skeptical.

    Elon Musk’s tweeting has once again garnered him media attention, this time after he offered Russian rocket scientists some advice in the design of a new partially reusable rocket known as the Amur SPG.

    “This is a good path, but I recommend aiming for full reusability,” Musk wrote in response to a tweet about the new Russian rocket, the design of which is expected to be completed in September, and which is expected to start taking payloads of between 10.5 and 12 tonnes to space from 2026.

    Musk’s tweet was instantly responded to by dozens of fanboys (and girls), asking him questions related to the future of space travel and Dogecoin, begging him to send their artwork into space, and even suggesting that Russia’s rocket engineers were “following” in his footsteps.

    Not everyone was so enthused, however, with some reminding the billionaire about the bugs yet to be worked out in SpaceX’s Starship rocket design which give it a tendency to explode, while others reminded him that Russia has a wealth of experience with reusable spacecraft going back to the 1980s, among them the Energia II Uragan fully reusable rocket and the semi-reusable Energia-Buran heavy-lift rocket and space shuttle, which famously shot to space and returned safely to Earth in fully automatic mode in 1988.

    Others suggested that the billionaire should use his genius not only for projects in space but to make life on Earth better, as well.

    Some Russian users felt slighted by Musk’s comments, with one suggesting that he should “first grow to our level and only then begin giving advice.” “How can someone give advice when his own rockets keep blowing up during launch?” another quipped.

    Others came to his defence, however, with one user saying Musk “is not doing anything bad against Russia and is quite sympathetic to it,” and that Russia’s Roscosmos should cooperate with him.

    Musk’s tweet isn’t the first time the billionaire has commented on the Amur SPG rocket. Last year, he similarly suggested that full reusability should be the goal, and proposed larger rockets to create economies of scale.

    The Amur SPG is expected to replace the Soyuz-2, an upgrade to the workhorse three-stage launch vehicle which has taken hundreds of payloads and manned crews safely to space for over 50 years, and has had a 100 percent human flight safety record since 1971.

    Along with the Amur SPG, which is developed by the Samara-based Progress Rocket and Space Centre, partially or fully reusable rocket designs are being developed by the Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects in the Defence Industry, and the aerospace division of S7 – a Russian airline. The US’s Blue Origin, and multiple companies in Europe and China are also working on reusable rocket technology.


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