Dmitry Rogozin, Russia’s space chief, has blocked former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly on Twitter after the two fought openly for days. Kelly, who led three missions to the International Space Station (ISS), chastised Rogozin on Sunday for tweeting pictures of international flags being torn from a Russian rocket, a symptom of deteriorating international ties with Russia amid its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Kelly previously stated that without international partners, Russia’s space program, which is headed by the Roscosmos space agency, “won’t be worth a damn.” In recent days and weeks, Rogozin, the director-general of Roscosmos, has slammed international sanctions against Russia, blaming the country’s increasingly isolated space industry on the acts of other countries. He has also stated that if Russia withdraws its support for the program, the ISS will be unable to remain in orbit around the Earth.
Kelly tweeted a screenshot of what looked to be a tweet from Rogozin earlier in the day, in which Rogozin said to Kelly: “Get out of here, you stupid! Otherwise, you will be responsible for the ISS’s demise.” The tweet, according to Kelly, has since been deleted. “Don’t want everyone to know what type of child you are?” Kelly inquired after Rogozin had removed the post. Kelly was then accused of being provocative by Rogozin, who wrote: “I will not allow you to behave like that with me.”
Rogozin seems to have prevented Kelly from viewing his tweets, according to another screenshot tweeted by Kelly on Monday morning. Despite continued international tensions, neither Roscosmos nor NASA has stated that the ISS’s operations will be altered in the foreseeable future, while experts have told Newsweek that NASA could manage the ISS alone if necessary. Roscosmos has announced the suspension of rocket engine shipments to the United States and the cancellation of a mission to deploy U.K. government-linked OneWeb satellites into space after OneWeb refused to meet new Roscosmos demands.
International condemnation of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine persists. According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) on March 7, the civilian death toll in Ukraine was 406 between the start of the invasion on February 24 and March 6, including an estimated 27 minors. The real figures, however, are thought to be substantially higher.