Tuesday night, the $200 million Antares cargo rocket destined for the International Space Station exploded seconds after takeoff in eastern Virginia. The Russians, predictably, rejoiced.
(Translation: "The explosion of the American-Ukraine Antares Rocket will result in big problems for American aerospace.")
Wrote one user in response:
@onlinekpru Есть бог на свете!— Вербовский Сергей (@verbalet) October 29, 2014
(Translation: "There is a god!")
What's more, Russia on Wednesday successfully launched its own cargo rocket from Kazakhstan. A popular Russian tabloid led with the headline, "After the Explosion of Antares, Our Cargo Spacecraft Successfully Delivered Berries and Sausages to the Internation Space Station."
Russia Today reported that the Antares rocket was "American-Ukrainian," and other outlets ran with it. The spectacular failure, wrote one Russian tabloid, "is the work of Ukrainian and American specialists." The rocket, based loosely on the Soviet Zenit rocket, was designed by the originally Soviet, now Ukrainian, Yuzhnoe Design Bureau, according to various Russian news sites.
It's not exactly surprising that Russia would celebrate an American failure or find a way to blame Ukraine. Russian has been blustering and threatening to cut off crucial cooperation on the International Space Station ever since the West imposed sanctions on the country for invading Crimea and eastern Ukraine. "After analyzing the sanctions against our space industry, I suggest to the USA to bring their astronauts to the International Space Station using a trampoline," Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Ragozin, who oversees the Russian aerospace sector, said in April.
It would be perfect—if only the Russians were right about the Antares' origins. But it turns out that the rocket's engine, like the engines of other privately-made American rockets, was made in ... Russia.